Durban - Police are probing the events that led to a KwaDukuza home allegedly being set alight on Sunday, killing a 10-year-old boy and injuring his mother and 5-year-old cousin.
Mxolisi Nxumalo, of Skhalambazo village, was asleep with his mother and 11 other relatives when the fire, fuelled by petrol, started about 2am on Sunday.
His distraught aunt, Minenhle Buthelezi, 25, claimed that someone known to the family had set the fire.
A day before, a group of people had argued with her at the house, she said.
Police spokesman, Captain Thulani Zwane confirmed that a case of murder and arson was being investigated, although there were no arrests yet.
He was unable to confirm whether the house was burnt as a result of the altercation.
Buthelezi said a man she knew had arrived at her home on Saturday with his girlfriend, who allegedly assaulted her.
The girlfriend returned a short while later with another woman and they continued to swear at her, she said, adding that they then left, but the girlfriend returned later with a group of about 15 people in three cars.
“They said they would show us. One of them said our house would be burnt,” said Buthelezi.
After they left, she said she received a call at midnight warning her again that her house would be burnt down. She could not sleep and when she looked out the window she said she saw a white Honda car slowly passing by their home.
“After 15 minutes I heard a window breaking in our lounge. I then heard my older sister (Ayanda) screaming, ‘we are being burnt’.
“Two people had kicked down the front door and entered her room. She was screaming, saying they had poured petrol inside her room.
“The house was already engulfed (in flames),” said Buthelezi, adding her daughter, Bongeka, suffered burn injuries on her left arm and leg.
Ayanda, who had been sleeping with her son Mxolisi, suffered burn injuries to her left arm.
Buthelezi said it all happened quickly and her 54-year-old mother escaped through the window after they had to force open the burglar bars.
She said two elders were admitted to hospital for smoke inhalation.
Buthelezi said it was only after they had run out of the burning house that one of the family members realised that Mxolisi was not among them.
“We didn’t even hear him crying or screaming. He must have been hit by the door when they kicked it down and (it) fell on him,” she said.
“He burnt with the door as he was laying beneath it. Everything was burnt to ashes, even Mxolisi,” said Buthelezi.
The man who had gone to the house with his girlfriend – his identity is known to the Daily News but cannot be revealed because it would identify his girlfriend, whom the family claim is behind the fire – confirmed that she and Buthelezi had fought on Saturday.
But he said he was not present during the second altercation, although he had heard that as the two women were driving away their car was stoned.
Buthelezi denied stoning their car.
The man confirmed that a group of people had later returned to the house, where “a fight started again”, saying Buthelezi’s neighbour, a policeman, had to intervene.
But he denied any knowledge of them planning to burn the house.
Captain Zwane confirmed that police had received a report on Saturday of a car being stoned at about 5.30pm in Skhalambazo Section, Sundumbili.
“The motive of the attack is unknown at this stage. Police are investigating (a) case of malicious damage to property and no arrest has been made at this stage,” he said.
Mxolisi’s mother, Ayanda, was too angry and distraught to speak about the incident.
Mxolisi, a Grade 4 pupil at Mbewenhle Primary School, will be buried this weekend.