A MOTHER and three of her children leapt to safety and survived a burning house, but a four-year-old girl died in the blaze when a fire gutted the family’s Mdantsane’s NU13 home on Tuesday.
The incident left the family homeless with only the clothes on their backs.
According to mum Funeka Gawula, the fire was caused by a paraffin stove that burst into flames when the family was preparing food.
The little girl’s death comes on top of her grandmother’s death last November.
Pensioner Nosisana died of natural causes on 12 November.
Speaking to the Dispatch on Wednesday, 38-year-old Funeka said when the stove burst into flames everyone ran outside because the flames were too strong. They realised moments later that Lesego was still inside and there was nothing that could have been done to save her.
“There were five of us in the house including Lesego, but everyone else ran when the fire started and she was left behind. The last words to come out of her were ‘mama’ because I called her name when I could not see her. She responded but when I called again there was silence,” said the heartbroken mother.
Lesego was sleeping on the bed and she had a fever. She was sleeping when the fire started.
“The house can be rebuilt and furniture bought but the life we have lost is not coming back again. We are saddened to have lost Lesego in such a manner,” she said.
Buffalo City Mayor Xola Pakati visited the family on Wednesday and pledged to support them by assisting with building a temporary shelter in the same yard and in the near future renovate the house, according to Funeka.
“We have been sleeping at relatives’ house, some at friends’ place. We are grateful that a temporary shelter will be built because it is never easy staying at someone else’s home,” she said.
Funeka said the family was poor and there was no one working, meaning to bury Lesego and rebuild the house would be an obstacle.
“We have nothing except the clothes we were wearing at the time of the fire. We lost everything,” said Funeka.
Community leader Nozibele Ntanjana said when community members attended to the house it was already engulfed in flames and there was nothing that could be done to save anything, even Lesego.
“There are some people who have donated some clothing and men living on this same street are helping with the building of the temporary structure. Everyone is doing their bit to assist,” said Nozibele.
Pakati said he visited the Gawula family to assess damage and see what he could do to help.
“Our intention is to provide temporary relief to the distressed family, build temporary structures for them, which is currently being erected and provide groceries. We are working with the provincial Human Settlements Department for a permanent solution,” said Pakati.
Pakati said: “The immediate challenge is that documentation such as IDs and birth certificates have been burnt in the house.”
In terms of assisting with the burial, Pakati said: “We will intervene based on the family’s request.”