Granny, young girls gassed in their sleep

Crime & Courts

Galeshewe - A city granny and three young girls died this weekend after a gas stove, used to prepare soup for the kids, was left open.

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The bodies of 50-year-old Bushi Gopane and her three grandchildren, Khezia, 11, Rethabile, 7, and Refentse, 3, was discovered by a nine-year-old family member in a backroom in Galeshewe. Photo: Danie Van der LithThe bodies of Khezia, 11, Rethabile, 7, Refentse, 3, and the their 50-year-old gradnmother Bushi Gopane were discovered by a nine-year-old family member in a backroom in Galeshewe. Photo: Supplied

The bodies of the 50-year-old Bushi Gopane and the three sisters, Khezia, 11, Rethabile, 7, and three-year-old Refentse were discovered by a nine-year-old family member in a backroom of a Galeshewe house on Saturday morning.

The police have confirmed that a gas stove was found on the scene and that it is suspected that the four might have died due to gas inhalation.

The girls’ aunt, Keneilwe Gopane, who lives in the main house, on Sunday said that the three girls were visiting their grandmother for the weekend when the incident occurred. They are from a farm Ronaldsvlei and were the children of Carmen and Thapelo Gopane.

Keneilwe told the DFA that the three children had been playing happily on Friday night with the other children before they went to bed with their grandmother just after 8pm.

“I came into the living room and saw that they had been building blanket tents and playing with the other children. Before going to bed they told me that they would make the place, where they played, neat again the next morning. We said goodnight and they went to sleep in my mother’s room at the back.

“On Saturday morning, we noticed that it was quiet in the backroom but then we decided to let them sleep a little bit more. The other children then went to knock on the door because they wanted to play with the three girls. When there was no answer, one child, a nine-year-old, climbed through the window. She opened the door from the inside and another girl went inside with her. The children said that the three girls and the grandmother did not want to wake up,” Keneilwe said.

“They then called me and I went to the room to see what had happened. Two of the girls were lying in bed with my mother and I thought they were playing some game. I told my mother to stop pretending that they were still sleeping because the children wanted to play. I then noticed white foam around Rethabile’s mouth and then realised that something was wrong.

“In the bathroom, Khezia sat lifeless on the floor. Refentse was still breathing and I carried her outside but it was too late. She died before we could do anything,” Keneilwe said.

The ambulance services were called but the four were declared dead on the scene.

Keneilwe added that they found a pot of soup on a gas stove in the room, with a strong gas smell.

“It was a tradition that my mother would always cook soup for the children on Saturday. We suspect that she started preparing the soup earlier the morning, placed it on the gas stove, turned it on and then went back to sleep,” she added.

After arriving on the scene, the police took the gas cylinder for forensic testing.

Police spokesman, Lieutenant Donald Mdhluli, on Sunday confirmed the incident. He said the Galeshewe police received information about the discovery of the four bodies on Saturday morning.

“The bodies were discovered in the backroom of a house on Saturday morning at around 9am by the deceased’s family members in Radebe Street, Galeshewe after noticing that the four did not wake up. Police, as well as emergency personnel, were alerted and attended to the complaint. The four were declared dead on the scene.

“There was a gas stove at the scene and at this stage the police suspect that the deceased might have died as a result of gas inhalation. No foul play is suspected and an inquest docket has been opened,” Mdhluli said.

On behalf of the police, he also conveyed a message of condolences to the family of the deceased.

“This is an unfortunate incident which happened on a day that the nation is celebrating the Women’s Day. We would like to urge the community to take extra precautions when they use gas, paraffin or electric stoves and heaters or any appliances so as to avoid incidents such as this,” Mdhluli added.

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