Fire kills mother and her three children

Ward councillor, Bongile Ngcani, inspects where the fire occurred. One adult died, including three children.

A woman and her three children were killed in a fire that destroyed their shack, in Endlovini informal settlement at Khayelitsha late on the night of Tuesday March 3.

Zukiswa Vuntu, 40, Anako Vuntu, 8, Siyamthanda Vuntu, 7, and Khayone Vuntu, 5, all died in the fire which started around 10pm and the cause of which has not yet been confirmed.

According to Jermaine Carelse, the City of Cape Town’s Fire and Rescue Service spokesman, the fire crew arrived on the scene to find a single informal structure had been completely destroyed by the fire.

A thorough search of the property, he said, had led to the discovery of the bodies of a woman, two girls and a boy.

Ms Vuntu’s sister, Nontombi Hazel Mantshuphu, said she was battling to come to terms with the death of her sister and children. She said her sister had been unemployed and dependent on her children’s social grant.

An emotional Ms Mantshuphu said her sister hadn’t had life insurance or a funeral plan and she didn’t know how she would afford to bury four people.

She said it appeared the fire had started in the bedroom and that Ms Vuntu and the children had managed to run to the kitchen, screaming for help, but no one had been able to assist them.

“They all died at the door trying to open the burglar gate.

“My husband is not working and the only is working and the honest truth is I can’t afford to bury them,” she said.

“I’m appealing to anyone that might assist to assist me to bury my family,” she said.

Neighbour, Amahle Mahlasela, said he was in his kitchen around 10pm when he heard screams and when he stepped outside he saw billowing smoke.

In an effort to alert the other neighbours, he shouted and some tried to douse the fire with buckets of water and sand but their brave efforts proved to be unsuccessful.

Councillor, Bongile Ngcani, said when he visited the scene, sadness and sorrow were etched into the faces of their relatives and community members.

Mr Ngcani said he had already made a contact with the Department of Social Development and the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) to assist the family.

He said firefighters had battled to enter the area due to the fact that the area was heavily congested and there were no streets.

“What I saw with my eyes was beyond tragic.

“I could feel the pain of this family and there was nothing that I could do to take away their pain,” he said.

“I appeal to all forms of government to speed up service delivery in this area. It’s us on the ground who feel such pain, not them.

“I will do everything in my power to assist this family but losing four people like this is unacceptable,” he said.