The family of seven-year-old Gift Zweni is still battling to come to terms with his tragic death, a week after he was killed by a fire that destroyed their house, in Site C.
“It is sad to lose my child under these circumstances,” said distraught mother, Iviwe Zweni. “There were lot of people that were kicking the doors, trying to open them, but it was too little too late, the flames were already huge.”
Gift was trapped inside the burning house on the morning of Wednesday March 28 . His father sustained serious burn wounds, while his 12-year-old brother, Junior, who had been sleeping in the house, survived the incident.
The fire started around 6am.
In an interview with Vukani on Monday April 2, Ms Zweni, said the boys slept in a separate room and that the fire had started in the dining room before quickly spreading to other rooms.
She wasn’t certain what caused the fire but suspected it may have been the result of an electrical fault.
Ms Zweni said she woke up at 5am and went to the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) offices to renew the children’s social grant.
The unemployed 42-year-old mother of three said she had locked the children and their father inside. She threw the keys through the burglar gate so that they’d have the keys to unlock the house once they woke up.
She said she was shocked when she returned home just after 6am to see billowing smoke and huge flames covering her house.
“The first thing that I wanted to check were my children. I heard people saying that one child was trapped inside. I just lost strength, I felt useless,” she said.
The family lost everything in the fire. A visibly shaken Ms Zweni said they wanted to bury Gift in the Eastern Cape, but could not afford to do so. She said since Gift died she had been battling to cope. “It has not sunken in that I will not see my last born alive again,” she said.
The family now stays with relatives. Gift’s older brother, Luvo Zweni, said he had been sleeping in a bungalow at the back of the house and was woken up by someone screaming “fire”. He said he just stood there and could not do anything as the fire had already engulfed the entire house.
“I can’t explain how the fire started. I can’t believe that my young brother has died. If I had slept inside the house maybe I would have died as well,” he said.
The City of Cape Town’s Fire and Rescue Services spokesperson, Theo Layne, said the cause of the fire was being investigated.