Cape Town - Gunshots and petrol bombs ended the lives of three people in Philippi East on Christmas Day.
Thembisa Mondleki, 26, and Garry Dladla, 38, died in hospital after their shack was set alight by Mondleki’s ex-boyfriend in the early hours.
Nolusindiso Batyi, 30, owner of the house at which the couple was renting a shack, said they had been sitting together with the couple and a few friends enjoying a few drinks on Christmas Eve.
“Then my friends and I decided to leave and go hang out elsewhere in the neighbourhood, leaving the couple by themselves,” Batyi said.
Batyi said Mondleki’s ex-boyfriend, known only as Warren, apparently came over while the couple was sitting outside and started quarrelling with them.
“Warren wanted to fight, but the couple decided to lock themselves inside their room to avoid a fight. He went away and came back at about 2am (on Christmas Day) with petrol bombs which he had made inside small bottles.
He started throwing them at the shack and it started burning with them inside.
But Warren didn’t realise that Garry (Dladla) had a gun. Garry shot him twice in the chest and he fell back with some of the petrol bombs still in his hand… he started burning,” Batyi said.
Mondleki’s younger sister, Ntombikayise Mondleki, 23, explained that by this time neighbours had already started gathering to try to extinguish the fire, but the couple was trapped inside.
She said that they managed to get the couple out of the burning shack but that they had sustained serious burns.
“I remember my sister asking for water, but we were advised not to give her water in case it made her condition worse. They just lay there… and said they were in pain, while we waited for the ambulance to come get them,” she said.
Ntombikayise Mondleki said they had received a message at about 11am, still on Christmas Day, that her sister and Dladla had died of their injuries in hospital.
Batyi said that Warren had already died by the time the ambulance arrived.
She added that the couple had only been dating for the past three weeks and that the ex-lovers had had an “on-off” relationship for the past year or so.
Batyi said Dladla had been living in Philippi East for the past two years. He was from Kimberley, while Warren was from Zimbabwe.
When the Cape Argus arrived at the scene of the fire on Wednesday, Batyi and her friends were still cleaning up.
All that was left of Dladla’s shack was a burnt-out mattress and two small cupboards.
“We had a really awful Christmas; there was nothing for us to celebrate. We were all crying,” said Batyi.
Ntombikayise Mondleki said she was still traumatised and it was still sinking in that her sister was gone forever. “We were very close. We did everything together.”
She said that all the families of the deceased had been informed of what happened and they would start arriving this week to make funeral arrangements.
Wilfred Solomons-Johannes, spokesman for the City of Cape Town’s Disaster Management Centre said the incident was reported to them at about 3:43am. He confirmed that one person died on the scene and added that “it is believed that (Warren) deliberately started the fire”.
Police spokesman Frederick van Wyk confirmed that three people had died and that police were investigating a case of murder and arson.
In Athlone, four people were displaced when a fire razed a house. Solomons-Johannes said the cause of the fire was unknown.