JOEL Mphela was thirsty for beer.

But his girlfriend Ntombifuthi Mabala (38) refused to give him money.

A fight allegedly broke out, which led to the couple’s deaths in a fire in Jeffesville in Atteridgeville, Tshwane, on Saturday, 1 May.

According to Ntombifuthi’s relative Jackson Zulu, Joel became violent and insulted Ntombifuthi.

“He locked the gate and door. He then poured paraffin all over the shack.

Ntombifuthi Mabala died In a fire incident in Jeffesville, Atteridgeville in Tshwane.

“Luckily their kids managed to escape with no injuries,” he said.

Jackson said Joel sold paraffin in his shack for a living.

“We suspect they had personal issues. This this is hard for us,” he said.

Uncle Lazarus Mphela (44) said Joel was a good and kind man.

“The only problem is he was controlled by alcohol when drunk. He introduced Ntombifuthi to us in December and even told me he loved her. It’s sad to see what happened,” he said.

Neighbours said they heard the kids crying and screaming for help. They saw huge flames, but couldn’t enter as the gate and door were locked.

Neighbour Nomsa Ndlela said the incident was painful.

“I was with Ntombifuthi on Saturday to give her R500 for rent. She showed her daughter some clothes for winter. She was like family to me. We tried to stop the fire, but it was too strong.”

Community leader Samuel Masilela said: “We need help to build better houses. We need help with a shack, clothes, food, school uniforms and all documents as everything burnt in the fire.”

Mapula Rikhotso from Atteridgeville Police Station said an inquest docket was opened.

“Investigations are underway to determine if there was any foul play,” she said.

Tshwane emergency services deputy chief Charles Mabaso said: “Firefighters discovered the bodies of a man and woman who were declared dead by paramedics. The cause of the fire has not been determined yet.”