Kimberley - A father doused himself and his six-month-old son with petrol, before setting them both alight, following an apparent lovers’ quarrel.
Selelo Lamshirt, 23, and his son, Boitumelo Christiano Andreas, died in hospital within hours after the apparent suicide and murder.
The Transit Camp resident had apparently been involved in a dispute with his girlfriend, Refilwe Andreas, according to neighbours who witnessed the incident. Andreas is also the mother of the child.
Shocked residents said they saw Lamshirt trying to pull Andreas, who he was screaming at, into his shack on Tuesday afternoon around 2pm.
“The two were arguing with each other in front of the shack while the baby was also present. Andreas tried to run away but Lamshirt pulled her into the shack,” one resident said.
She managed to free herself from him and ran down the street screaming, saying that he wanted to kill her.
“He grabbed their son and while holding him to his hip, he took a plastic bottle and threw the contents over his (Lamshirt’s) head. It ran over his body and that of the child. He then went into the shack with the baby. The next thing we saw was the smoke coming out through the window.”
Neighbours said they came to the door but it was locked from the inside.
“We then broke down the door and found Lamshirt with the baby in his arms, lying on the floor. They were both burnt pitch black, but were still moving. All we could smell was petrol and burnt flesh. The child was screaming at first but he later became quiet. I suspect the smoke filled his lungs and he struggled to breathe,” a neighbour said.
Miraculously, Lamshirt and his son were still alive and they were taken to a local clinic by a taxi. An ambulance then transported them to the Kimberley Hospital, where they both died before being admitted to the intensive care unit.
Lamshirt’s upper body reportedly sustained extensive burn wounds, while the child’s body was completely burnt.
Lamshirt’s sister, Elsie Lamshirt, was on Wednesday at the scene and said that although she was not at her home, which is opposite that of her brother, when he set himself and the baby alight, she did see him shortly before it happened.
“At around noon I saw my brother in Club 2000 and I asked him why he had knocked off that early from work. He said that he was just taking care of some things and he walked away,” Elsie said.
“As he turned away, I saw a plastic bottle containing some liquid in his backpack but thought nothing of it. In hindsight, I now realise that it was the petrol he used to kill himself and his son. If only I could turn back the time, I could perhaps have done something to prevent this tragic incident,” she said.
She added that he had apparently also tried to hang himself earlier, because he had a horizontal bruise across his neck.
Inside the shack, she showed reporters a wire noose hanging from the roof, which she said confirmed her suspicions of an earlier suicide attempt.
Apart from the smell of petrol, the only evidence of the tragedy was a partially burnt blanket and a mattress.
Police spokesman, Lieutenant Sergio Kock, confirmed on Wednesday that the Kagisho police were investigating a case of murder and had also opened an inquest docket following the incident.
“It is believed that the suspect and his girlfriend were involved in an argument. The father fetched the child from his girlfriend and took him into his shanty. He then locked the door and allegedly doused both him and the boy with petrol before setting them alight. Neighbours kicked open the door and transported both the father and son to a local clinic in Galeshewe. They were then transferred to the Kimberley Hospital where they died later the same afternoon,” Kock said.
The police have further requested anyone with information regarding the incident to contact the investigating officer, Detective Warrant Officer Essie Esterhuizen on 082 496 1913.
Lamshirt was apparently employed at a construction company in Kimberley.
The mother of the child, Andreas, was on Wednesday unable to speak to the media about the incident, because she was busy with funeral arrangements for her son and was still very grief-stricken.
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