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Mother dies in fire while saving her children

Her three children survived the fire but her youngest suffered severe burns.

Tsakani – A 47-year-old woman died in a shack fire on Friday night in Ext 19. Thobeka Godlwana, a mother of three, was declared dead on the scene, while two of her children, aged eight and 14, were rushed to hospital.

Her oldest child, Peter Godlwana (23), managed to escape the house before the fire reached his room.

His mother lost her life while helping her youngest children escape the flames.

“We went to bed at about 21:00. At around 23:45, our home was already on fire. I think the fire had been burning for an hour before we noticed because the entire kitchen was covered in flames already,” said Godlwana.

He said he tried to extinguish the fire with a bucket of water but failed. He then broke the window, which his siblings escaped through. Godlwana was the only family member to escape unharmed.

“We were still putting out the fire at about 02:00, and at that point, we realised my mother had passed on,” he said somberly.

The children’s aunt visited them in the hospital. She was emotional when describing the severity of the youngest child’s injuries.

“She suffered burns on her face, hands and back. She can talk but cannot open her eyes. Her face is swollen and covered with blisters,” Mahlatsi Malapa said.

The older child was discharged. According to Malapa, the teenager also suffered burns to her face, but not as severely as the youngest.

“Her face, neck and back were injured. There was a neighbour who helped to pull the children out through the window. Her hands were injured in the process.

“These children lost their mother. They lost everything – their clothes, books, certificates, school uniforms. The children have nothing,” she said.

Thobeka Godlwana died while trying to save her children.

She said the family was confused about the fire’s cause.

“The children said they switched off all electrical appliances before going to bed,” Malapa said.

William Ntladi, the district manager media liaison of the Emergency Services Disaster and Emergency Management Services, confirmed the incident and that the SAPS is investigating.

“The cause is unknown at this stage, though information from the scene states it might be an electrical fault. The shack was severely burnt and damaged. Disaster Management issued sister relief aids to the affected family members,” Ntladi said.

The woman’s death caused outrage in the community because they claim shack fires are a frequent occurrence. Community members said they were promised housing in 2017. On Monday, they protested for service delivery.

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