The grieving father of one of the two children who burnt to death in a shack in Ramaphosa informal settlement on August 22 told the Advertiser he was still angry at the children’s mother for leaving the children home alone while she went partying.
The deceased children, Akhona and Angie, were girls aged two and six. Their older brother (8) managed to escape but sustained severe burns and was taken to Tambo Memorial Hospital.
Their 30-year-old mother, who was allegedly out drinking at a shebeen when the shack caught fire, apparently electrocuted herself after being called to the scene.
Zolani Dumaphi (45), Akhona’s father, said he last saw her last month when he visited her.
The father said he started dating the mother in 2017.
“I am sad and heartbroken about what happened. She has apparently taken her own life and has left me in a mess as I don’t have money to bury them,” Dumaphi said.
He said he started working in January, but due to Covid-19 he doesn’t have money.
A neighbour, Lillian Manganye, who was the first person on scene, said she is still traumatised by what she saw.
“I need counselling because the images keep playing in my mind. I can’t even pass my neighbour’s shack at night because I’m too scared,” she said.
According to Manganye, she was woken up by a child crying around 4am.
“I went outside and I realised my neighbour’s shack was on fire. I rushed to the shack and saw flames coming from the roof. I then saw the 8-year-old screaming for someone to help his sisters because they were trapped inside,” she explained.
Manganye called her neighbour, Makatleho Jonas, while other neighbours also arrived to put out the fire after hearing her screams.
Jonas said when she arrived at the scene, the boy’s entire body was severely burnt.
“When we got to the shack, it was too late to save the children because the shack was already engulfed in fire. We couldn’t do anything,” she said.
The two neighbours said Ngidi was unemployed and didn’t receive a grant because she didn’t have an identity document.
“She lived on handouts. She would come and ask for food and we would give her. She was a secretive person who taught her children to play inside the yard; you never found them on the streets.”
Jonas said when they went through the rubble on August 24 to try and locate her family, they found documents revealing her real name and that she hailed from Pietermaritzburg.
The neighbours said while the community was putting out the fire, the mother arrived and apparently was drunk.