Nanny under arrest after shack fire kills 2 toddlers in Ekurhuleni

A mother of two is devasted following a shack fire in which her children were killed.

Two siblings, aged three and four, were burnt alive in a shack fire in Tamboville in Wattville, Ekurhuleni, just after 16:00 on Sunday.

The nanny of Mira Tembe and her brother, Armando, allegedly left them in a locked shack without adult supervision after she went to a local braai spot.

SAPS district communications officer Captain Neldah Sekgobela said a 45-year-old woman has been arrested.

“It is alleged that the woman left the children to go and buy food. An inquest docket has been registered and is under investigation,” said Sekgobela.

Community leader Victor Khoza and Albert Nemota stand where the gutted shack was when two children burnt to death in Tamboville.

According to the landlord, Dorah Mthethwa (86), the electricity tripped in the main house. When she went out to determine the cause, she noticed a cloud of smoke coming from the shack.

“I rushed to the shack and saw flames coming from the roof. I screamed for help because I knew the children were trapped inside. It was the norm that they were left alone in the shack. I’ve warned her many times not to leave the children unattended, but she would claim she was following their mother’s instructions, who was against them playing in the street.”

Dorah Mthethwa with the mother of the children, Maria Tembe.

An eyewitness who saw the nanny return alleged that the nanny rushed to the shack, which had already caught fire, and saved some of the family’s belongings.

Community members complained that the fire department only arrived an hour after the incident and after they had spent hours trying to extinguish the fire with water on low pressure.

The toddlers’ mother, Maria Tembe, struggled to speak about the incident because she broke down during the interview. The grief-stricken single mom, who works as a vendor, said she was at work when called to the scene.

“I couldn’t believe what I saw with my eyes. It was unreal.

“What breaks my heart is that she managed to take out my flask, a washing powder and some of her belongings. Why didn’t she save my children first?”

Tembe said the nanny, from Zimbabwe, approached her in January and told her she was unemployed and didn’t have a place to stay.

“I referred her to the landlady, who offered her a place to stay at the same property we live on. Because my mom and I work during the day, I asked her to take care of my two children and paid her R500 every Saturday,” said Temba.

A burnt item from the home.

The family said they lost everything in the fire and are in urgent need of food and clothes, and they desperately need help to bury the children.

“We appeal for help from anyone who would like to assist us to bury my children. We welcome any help,” said Tembe.

To help, call Victor Khoza (community leader) on 063 583 3550 or Nokwanda Kunene on 067 296 7681.

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