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Johannesburg - A family of four - a couple and their two children - were killed in a shack fire at the weekend.
Police spokesman Captain Phillemon Khorombi said an arson investigation was under way and at this stage it was not clear what caused the fire in Slovo Park, an informal settlement south of Eldorado Park.
He said a 35-year-old man, his partner, 32, and their two children - aged seven years and six months - were asleep when the fire broke out.
“We don’t know what the cause of the fire is, that will form part of the investigation. We’ll involve other units to assist with the investigation,” Khorombi said.
Leopold Nyantumbo, who is related to the couple through marriage, said that despite their efforts to put out the blaze with water-filled buckets, they couldn’t save the family.
He said the family were originally from Mozambique.
A distraught Nyantumbo, who lives in the same area, also said they had no idea what caused the fire.
One of the family’s neighbours said she suspected that a candle might have caused it. She said the family’s shack didn’t have electricity.
The neighbour, who didn’t want to be identified, said they were alerted to what was happening when they heard screams coming from the shack.
“We heard the family scream, but they didn’t scream for long... The fire was too strong.
“It was burning very fast because of the wind,” she said.
The woman said residents tried to contain the fire while others moved their belongings out of their shacks to save them in case the fire spread.
She said one other shack was caught in the fire, but no one was injured and most of their belongings had been moved out.
The neighbour said the fire brigade arrived more than an hour after it was sent for.
“The brigade arrived long after we put out the fire. We kept calling and one guy even drove to the fire station in his car, and he was told that the fire truck was broken and they had to call for one from another fire station,” she said.
Requests for comment from Johannesburg emergency services went unanswered.