Blaze claims life of 10-year-old

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IOL  Diepkloof fire490 THE STAR Diepkloof councillor Musa Nxumalo takes a picture of the Soweto home in which a 10-year-old boy died of smoke inhalation. Photo: Motlabana Monnakgotla

Johannesburg - Ephraim Vundla owns nothing but the clothes on his back.

Two of his grandchildren are in hospital, while a third, 10-year-old Simphiwe, was caught in a blaze after his Diepkloof, Soweto, home caught fire.

The house that Simphiwe had called home since birth became a death trap in the early hours of on Monday morning.

The Grade 5 pupil was sleeping with his mother and siblings when they were awoken by the screams of their neighbours, who were trying to douse the flames.

Simphiwe was confirmed dead by paramedics at the scene. He died of smoke inhalation.

His mother and siblings were rushed to Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital.

Vundla was not home when his house was engulfed in flames.

He would initially have arrived in Soweto from his parents’ Newcastle, KZN, home only at about noon.

He made alternative arrangements and left Newcastle shortly after receiving a call from his neighbours.

“I still don’t know how this happened while I was away. It pains me that my own grandson died in my house,” Vundla said on Monday afternoon.

He said the family would be dependent on nearby relatives and neighbours for their next meal and a shelter for the night.

“We can’t be sleeping in a house without windows and a roof. We can clean the house, but it won’t make any difference because we don’t have blankets or clothes to keep warm.

“These are the only clothes I have with me. I am very concerned with the other two children, who are still in hospital.

“I don’t know where they will go once they are discharged. They can’t come here, we don’t have a home.”

Social workers were at the scene to counsel those affected by the tragedy.

It was unclear what started the fire.

“We are still waiting for Eskom people to confirm the cause. We just pray that the cause was faulty electrical plugs and not something else,” said Ephraim’s uncle, Charles Vundla.

“We can’t start with funeral arrangements yet. We first need to fix the house before we can give the boy a dignified funeral.”

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