Three die as jealous lover burns boyfriend's abode

One of the three people killed yesterday in a fire at a building in Jeppestown, Johannesburg.
One of the three people killed yesterday in a fire at a building in Jeppestown, Johannesburg.
Image: ANTONIO MUCHAVE

A lovers' tiff involving a married woman, her boyfriend and his other girlfriend resulted in the burning down of a Johannesburg building, that left three people dead.

Among the dead was the 33-year-old married woman, identified by her father as Zama Nxumalo.

Nxumalo had left her five-year-old child with a friend while visiting her boyfriend for the night. The incident in Jeeppestown took place in the early hours of yesterday morning.

The fire was allegedly started by the man's other girlfriend after she arrived to find him with another woman.

A neighbour, who asked not to be named, told Sowetan she saw a huge smoke around 3am and realised that the building was on fire.

"I jumped out of the bed and went outside and found the woman [who allegedly started the fire] fuming and swearing at the top of her voice. She told me she wanted to burn her cheating boyfriend with petrol and teach him a lesson," the neighbour said.

"While she was crying and cursing, I called for help as I realised that the fire was getting worse. We are saddened that three people, including that woman [Nxumalo] died because of a stupid love affair. It is sad that the woman who is said to have been cheating with the man did not make it but the boyfriend survived.

Nxumalo's father Piet Ntshangase said he got the shocking news of her daughter's tragic death yesterday morning from her friends who brought her five-year-old child to him.

"I was with her on Saturday evening because she came to visit me during the day and lied to me and said she was going back home to her husband in Yeoville [also Johannesburg] where she lived," Ntshangase said.

"If she had gone straight home, her life would have been spared but she lied to me and said she was calling an Uber to take her home knowing she was going to her boyfriend."

Ntshangase said losing a daughter like this has torn him apart. "My daughter died a very painful death, I saw her burnt body and her head was crushed by bricks that fell on top of her," Ntshangase said.

Nxumalo's friend, who also did not want to be named, said Nxumalo left her place around 11pm after she was fetched by her boyfriend.

"She said she told her husband that she was sleeping over at her father's place. I looked after her child for her because I knew she would be spending the night with the boyfriend who is renting not far from where I stay," the friend told Sowetan yesterday.

A devastated neighbour, Fikile Masondo, said: "I lost everything I worked hard for. I have no place to stay and I just hope they find this woman because she almost killed us."

"Two other people died in the fire, including a man who lived at Jeppe Hostel. He came to help us to put out the fire. The wall collapsed and fell on him."

Police spokesperson Capt Mavela Masondo said: "One female and two males were confirmed dead on the scene with two burnt to death inside the building and one male who died after the wall collapsed on him."

Mavela Masondo said the incident later resulted in the looting and attacking of foreigners and their shops in the area. "Four people have been arrested for public violence," he said.

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