Officials reveal how four children died in Alexandra fire

Grandmother Nosi Sokupha says she raised Mbalenhle since she was a baby.
Grandmother Nosi Sokupha says she raised Mbalenhle since she was a baby.
Image: Mduduzi Ndzingi

The Gauteng department of social development on Wednesday revealed how four children were trapped inside their Alexandra home when it caught fire at the weekend.

"The four children died in the early hours of Sunday morning in a two-roomed backroom with only one window that was too high for them to reach‚" said department spokesperson Mbangwa Xaba.

"Their 14-year-old brother and cousin who survived [were] locked in another room. They were locked inside the house by their mothers who went on a whole-night drinking spree. Neighbours tracked them to a shebeen where they were arrested‚" Xaba added.

The youngest of the children‚ Amukelani Ngubeni‚ was just two years old. The other children were named as four-year-old Sandile Ngubeni and Nhlanhla Ngubeni‚ who was seven. Their cousin‚ Mbali Fihlani‚ was just five years old.

"Their memorial service will be held today at Thusong Centre‚ 11 Avenue‚ Alexandra from 13:00 to 15:00 [on Wednesday]. Their funeral will be held at the same venue on Thursday. The service will be held between 08:30 to 10:30 in the morning‚" Xaba added.

The mothers of the two children‚ Nelisiwe Fihlani and Bongiwe Ngubeni‚ appeared in the Alexandra Magistrate's Court on Tuesday. Their bail application was postponed to next Friday.

"The MEC visited the home on Tuesday. She was touched by the circumstances under which these children died. She became very emotional at the scene‚" said Xaba.

She said if parents were failing to take care of their children‚ they should hand them over to the department.

"I'm saddened by this incident. Parents should take care of their children but if they can't‚ they should hand over the children to the Gauteng department of social development because we have places of safety and secure care places which are conducive for their care and protection‚" said social development MEC Nandi Mayathula-Khoza.

"No child should die in such a tragic manner. This simply should not be happening‚" she added.

The department is providing counselling to the teen who survived and other family members who may need it.

"The department will also assist him with a school uniform‚ food parcels through Sassa for the next three months and R3 380 cash contribution also from Sassa for each family‚" Xaba said.

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