KwaZulu-Natal - Senzeni Zulu was only seven years old, but when she realised her two younger sisters were in danger in a burning shed, she rushed to their rescue, but died in the process.
She managed to pull out five-year-old Aphiwe, but then she went back in for one-year-old Sanele.
Engulfed by flames, Senzeni and the toddler died in the blaze at their home in Jozini, northern KwaZulu-Natal.
They will be buried on Sunday, a week to the day of the horrible tragedy, their distraught father said on Thursday.
The siblings had been left alone at home while their father, Mfuniseni Zulu, attended the funeral of a young woman who had been murdered.
“I go to bury a young girl who was raped and killed and then I come home to find my own children dead,” Zulu said.
“This emotional roller-coaster has left me drained physically.”
It appeared that Senzeni had been watching TV when Aphiwe came into the house and picked up a box of matches.
Moments later a fire broke out in a shed alongside their home and Senzeni rushed to save her siblings
Zulu said Aphiwe had suffered minor burns on her face and had been to a doctor again on Thursday.
“At first we thought that it was the gas cylinder that could have exploded, but now that I think about all the stuff inside the shed, it could have been anything that caught alight because the children were playing with matches,” he said.
“There were pesticides in the shed, there were empty plastic containers, as well as refuse bags. These things could have caught alight.
“The gas cylinder was nearly empty,” he said, adding that an old bed and blankets had also been stored there.
Zulu said he could only speculate on how the fire had been started, because “there’s no proper story
... that will come from a five-year-old”.
“I’m angry, confused and I’m still trying to fit the pieces together,” he said.
“I am going to be burying two of my little children on the same day. It is too emotional.”
He said the family were making arrangements to bury the siblings.
Police spokesman, Captain Thulani Zwane, said an inquest docket had been opened and police were investigating.
Police said another body had been found near Jozini on Monday.
It was the decomposed body of a 14-year-old girl.