Nine kids perish in fires in two days

A sniffer dog helps emergency personnel at the scene where two children were burnt to death while sleeping inside a shack in Kagiso on the West Rand.
A sniffer dog helps emergency personnel at the scene where two children were burnt to death while sleeping inside a shack in Kagiso on the West Rand.
Image: Mduduzi Ndzingi

Five children were killed by fire on Monday, just a day after four others died in a blaze in Alexandra.

Three children were killed when their shack caught fire at Browns Farm in Philippi, Cape Town, on Monday. On the same day, two boys died when their home burnt down in Kagiso, West Rand.

On Sunday, four children died when a blaze ignited in their home in Alexandra, northern Johannesburg, while their mothers were out drinking at a local shebeen.

The two women appeared in court yesterday.

Gauteng police spokesperson Captain Mavela Masondo said they had opened inquest dockets for the Kagiso deaths.

Evo Sambo's sons, Steven, two, and William, 18 months old, died in their sleep when their shack caught fire in Kagiso. Their mother, who was busy with laundry outside when tragedy struck, has been admitted to hospital for trauma.

Sambo, 28, recalled how he shared a meal with Steven before waving him goodbye as he left for work, only to learn a few hours later that he was dead.

Sambo said he received a call at about 3pm asking him to come back home because his children were "slightly" burnt in a fire.

"[But] when I walked in and saw the shack, I could tell that something bad had happened. I have never seen something like that before, everything was burnt. The children were lying next to each other on the bed. It is painful," he said.

City of Cape Town's Fire and Rescue Service spokesperson Theo Layne said: "We responded there [Philippi] at 9.18pm [on Monday night]. Four informal structures were destroyed in the blaze. Two male minors and one female minor sustained fatal burns."

Layne said the cause of the fire was still being probed.

Johannesburg Emergency Management Services spokesperson Robert Mulaudzi said they had seen an escalating number of incidents where young children were left unattended or locked inside the shack while "parents are out having some nice time in shebeens and taverns, which is disturbing".

"These incidents are reported almost monthly throughout the City of Johannesburg."

Meanwhile, SA Weather Services forecaster Madimetja Thema has warned that the current weather conditions could get fires out of control.

"We have extremely high fire danger conditions in the central part of the country today [Tuesday] and tomorrow. There has been warning about fires ... that you must not start a fire because it might get out of control.

"If a shack is on fire, the weather conditions outside could make it move to another shack."

She said a heat wave with high temperatures would be felt in the central parts of the country today.

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