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Teenage boy (13) wakes up to find his relatives dead

Mxolisi Miya and Refiloe Mlambo in the home where three people died in Sebokeng, Johannesburg, possibly from smoke inhalation./ANTONIO MUCHAVE
Mxolisi Miya and Refiloe Mlambo in the home where three people died in Sebokeng, Johannesburg, possibly from smoke inhalation./ANTONIO MUCHAVE

A 13-year-old boy crawled to his neighbours to seek help after he woke up to find his three relatives mysteriously dead in their home yesterday morning.

Sipho Miya was terrified to discover the bodies of his grandmother Stella Miya, 73, aunt Gugulethu Miya, 35, and cousin Mpho Dube, 13, in their home in Sebokeng, south of Johannesburg.

Sipho had apparently gone to sleep early the night before and was traumatised to wake up and find the bodies of his relatives lying around the house. The cause of death of the three family members is yet to be determined. Police spokesperson Capt Teboho Lephoto said three inquest cases were being investigated.

Lephoto said police were not certain whether the cause of death could have been smoke inhalation from a brazier that was found in the house or whether the three ingested poison.

A neighbour, who was the first to respond to the 13-year-old boy's cries for help, was stunned to find the bodies of the three family members lying around the house.

Sophia Khumalo, 53, told Sowetan she was called by another neighbour who told her that the boy had crawled to his house to seek help.

"I rushed and found him [Sipho] lying on the ground.

All that he was able to do was to tell the other neighbour that his grandmother, aunt and cousin refused to wake up.

"He said he tried to shake them but they still didn't wake up. He told us this and then collapsed," Khumalo said.

She said she went to investigate what the problem was and found three bodies in the house.

Khumalo said she was horrified to find that Stella had vomited blood.

"I found Mpho [the cousin] lying face down on the floor in the kitchen. Stella [the grandmother] was lying diagonal from Mpho and then I went to the bedroom where I found Gugu [the aunt] lying in bed with her head tilted in a funny angle," Khumalo said.

Relatives said they were left dumbfounded when they arrived at the house to find their kin dead.

Mxolisi Miya, 53, Stella's son, said the family will find it difficult to come to terms with the deaths of three members at one go.

"We are hurt and don't know what to do. We got a call from my older brother who said we needed to come to Sebokeng because there was a problem.

"When we arrived and found a crowd around the house and police as well, we knew that there is a big problem," Mxolisi said.

He said they were still processing the news of the deaths.

He described his mother as a pillar in their family who took care of everyone.

"She was a strong woman and did everything for us. She loved being at home and she would take care of her grandchildren.

"Gugu was a happy soul who was always smiling, and you would never find her angry or upset. We don't know what we will do without them now," he said.

Mxolisi said Sipho, his nephew, had regained consciousness and that he was undergoing counselling.

"He is at the hospital and we heard that he was awake.

"He will need to receive counselling and be tested to determine whether he ate the same food as they did and if that was the source that killed everyone else," he said.