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Cape Town -
A man burnt to death when he was trapped in a small storeroom meant for wheelie-bins in a block of flats in Maitland.
Steven de Bruin, 43, known by many Maitland residents as “Sunshine”, was found dead in the storeroom behind Carlisle Court in Carlisle Street at about 10.45am on Tuesday.
A resident and De Bruin’s friend, Aasiemah Molisie, was alerted when she heard him screaming: “Help! Please help me!” She ran downstairs, but the storeroom was locked, and neighbours were unable to rescue De Bruin.
By the time firefighters arrived the flames had died down.
“I went inside and I saw his bones. All that was left was his bones,” Molisie said.
Cape Town fire and rescue services’ Theo Layne said the cause of the fire was still unknown.
They had received the call at 10.27am and were on the scene 13 minutes later.
De Bruin’s sister, Dorothy Canther, said the family was in shock.
“We don’t really know what happened. There’s no electricity in that room, so it might have been a cigarette, or candle, we’re not sure.”
Friends and relatives knew De Bruin to be a wanderer, who worked at clothing warehouses around Maitland and slept on people’s stoeps, until he moved into the storeroom three years ago.
Some said they saw him going out early on Tuesday, as he usually did, to look for a cigarette.
“Sunshine was such a gentle, loving person, and although he used to drink a lot he always loved people and was always the same – always helping other people,” Molisie said.