WHEN Zikhaya Sithole (38) heard a mother scream that her kids were inside the shack, he didn’t hesitate.

“That’s when I pulled my hat over my face and ran into the flames,” said Zikhaya from Orange Farm extension 5, south of Joburg.

When he tried to save the one-year-old and two-year-old baby brothers, Zikhaya was left with a badly burnt face and hands that don’t work properly.

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Zikhaya told Daily Sun that he was coming from a shop with a friend in August when he saw smoke and heard screams from local residents.

Zikhaya Sithole now struggles to use his hands properly. Photo by Morapedi Mashashe

They rushed to the shack to see what was happening. That’s when he saw the flames and heard the mother screaming.

“When I got inside the shack, I heard the children crying. I grabbed the child who was on the bed and ran out, but when I wanted to go back for the other one, the flames were too strong,” he said.

It was only after he went home that he realised he was burnt.

“But I never regretted entering the shack. I have saved a child. I wish I could have saved them both.”

Zikhaya’s partner, Mapaseka Monareng (35), said she was shocked when he came home burnt, but she called his relatives and paramedics while she helped him take off his clothes.

BEFORE: Zikhaya Sithole says saving a child’s life is something he accepts being damaged for.

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“I am proud of him for what he did,” she said.

The SunTeam arrived at his home with donors who came to visit him.

Dr Convy Baloyi, President of African Covenant, said they were touched by Zikhaya’s bravery.

“We live in a world where men are said to be trash, but Zikhaya braved the flames to save kids. We will journey with him through his healing process. We don’t have much to offer, but we’ll work with him,” he said.

The family of the two boys have since left the area, but they visited Zikhaya after he was discharged from hospital.