A Durban police officer allegedly killed his fiancée and their six-week-old son by setting them alight after he spent the whole day terrorising his fiancée’s family members on Saturday.
The 32-year-old constable from the Durban Port Security Service was also badly burnt in the fire that killed his son Lungelo and Bonisiwe Violla Mthembu, a mother of three children.
Mthembu, 32, an agricultural science teacher at Mandlenkosi High School in Lindelani, died at her parents’ home in Inanda, north of Durban. Her two daughters, Amanda and Mbali, aged three and 10, were not injured.
For seven hours, Mthembu had locked herself in her bedroom to hide away from her fiancé, who allegedly tried to attack her several times with a firearm.
Mthembu’s younger sister, Ntombizodwa, said Mthembu had first escaped death on Friday after the constable had doused her with petrol at his nearby home.
Ntombizodwa said she had just handed young Lungelo to her mother in the bedroom when the man started the fire at Mthembu’s house at 8pm after breaking a back window and entering.
On hearing her sister crying for help, Ntombizodwa and other family members rushed to try to save her.
“I forced the door open and saw my sister covered in flames.
“I tried to save her by pulling her out of the room, but (the man) doused me with the petrol. I escaped as he was striking a match,” said Ntombizodwa.
She said she later saw the man burning.
All that was left in the bedroom where Mthembu and Lungelo were killed were the charred remains of furniture. The rest of the six-room house was also damaged by the fire.
On Sunday, a group of police officers was seen at the house searching for the constable’s service pistol.
Ntombizodwa said that before he had started the fire, the armed man had spent hours terrorising her family.
Mthembu locked herself in the bedroom after neighbours told her that they had seen the man carrying a petrol container, which he had hidden in a bush outside the house.
“(He) arrived at the house at about 2pm and demanded to talk to my sister, who refused to open the door.
“With a firearm in his hand, he forced my mother to try and convince my sister to open the door, but he was unsuccessful.
“He left, but at about 8pm I heard a window breaking and my sister shouting for help. I rushed to help her, but it was too late,” she said.
Neighbours helped to put the fire out before the badly burnt bodies of Mthembu and Lungelo were found. The constable was found with injuries and taken to Mahatma Gandhi Hospital.
Mthembu’s elder sister, Nhlanhla Mthembu, said her sister and the constable had been in a relationship for the past four years, and had been living together at his nearby house. But she moved back with her parents a few months ago. Family members believed he had been frustrated by financial problems.
“They had been in the process of finalising wedding preparations. He had paid bride price although they had not finalised the wedding date,” said Nhlanhla.
Her sister had previously taught at Nombika High School in Ndwedwe and Myeka High School in Inanda.
Police spokesman Jay Naicker said that a case of murder and arson had been opened and that the constable was in a serious condition. - The Mercury