Shack fire kills three

Residents clear the debris in the aftermath of the fire.

Siviwe Sinuma is battling to come to terms with the death of his seven-year-old son, Someleze Tywala, who died with his two cousins, Linamandla Tywala, 14 and Sinothando Tywala 11, when a fire ravaged their grandmother’s four-room-shack at Zwelitsha informal settlement, on Sunday March 11.

The fire broke out around 2am. The children had been sleeping in a separate room while their grandmother, Nyameka Tywala, 53, was sleeping in another room. She sustained severe burn wounds on her face, hands and back. She was rushed to Tygerberg Hospital.

When Vukani arrived at the scene in the early hours of Sunday, residents were trying to assist the family by rebuilding the shack while others donated food and building material.

The 27-year-old unemployed father of three told Vukani they had been informed that the cause of the fire was a faulty electricity box.

Mr Sinuma stays at Nkanini informal settlement near to Zwelitsha informal settlement.

He said the children had been staying with their grandmother and would sometimes visit him over the weekend.

“I have no words to describe this horrific incident. We are still shocked and devastated. No one wishes to lose his child. It’s sad and I still feel like I’m going to see my son.

“My wife has not taken this well. In fact, the entire family is grieving. No one is working and we don’t have any slightest idea of how are we going to bury them,” he said.

Mr Sinuma said what hurts the family the most was that the government needed to conduct a DNA test before they could be given the bodies to bury. He said they had been informed that this process might take weeks or even months before the bodies were released.

He said they had been advised that if they needed the process to be done quickly, they should hire a private company that could do the job within a week so that they could start preparing for the burial. However, he said they needed to pay R1 300 – which they did not have.

He added that the family wanted to bury his son in their home village in the Eastern Cape.

Fire and Rescue Service Services spokesperson, Theo Layne, said two girls and one boy had sustained fatal burns while a woman who had sustained 50% burns, was treated by the Medics and transported to hospital. He said the cause of the fire remained undetermined at this time.

Resident Thembekazi Klaas said they’ve been having problems with their electricity for years.

She said the electricity tripped frequently and caused damage to their appliances. She said they had reported this matter to Eskom numerous times but nothing had been done.

Ward councillor Andile Lili pleaded with the public at large to help the family to help fund the burial costs.

Ntomboxolo Somdaka Makoba, spokesperson for Human Settlements MEC, Bonginkosi Madikizela, said the minister would assist the family with funeral arrangements.