Mom’s tragic dash to the loo

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Copy of St main burnt child 489.JPG (43722190) THE STAR Nelly Chamane, whose 4-month-old daughter died when their house in Mzimhlophe, Soweto, caught fire while she was out relieving herself at a toilet a kilometre away. Photo: Nokuthula Mbatha

Johannesburg - A 4-month-old baby girl burnt to death inside a house in Mzimhlophe, Soweto, on Tuesday when her mother left her and her 4-year-old brother alone to go to the toilet.

Nelly Chamane said she was alerted by neighbours that her house was on fire on her way back.

The plastic toilet that she shares with her neighbours is a kilometre away from her house.

She said she started screaming that her four-month old baby was inside when she saw her house engulfed in flames.

“I left my baby sleeping, it wasn’t that long. I didn’t take long in the bathroom,” said Chamane.

The 4-year-old had gone looking for his mother when the house caught fire.

Lungisani Chamane, the infant’s uncle, believes the fire started when Nelly left the front door open with the two-plate stove on.

“The curtain that divides the kitchen and bedroom caught alight when the wind blew in. From that, the blankets in the bedroom must have caught alight as well,” said Lungisani.

He said he believed that the flames spread quickly because of how the house is designed.

“She must have taken 30 minutes outside the house, because she walks her 9-year-old son to school and she went to the toilet afterwards,” said Lungisani.

The 45-year-old uncle said he believed his niece had suffered before her death as pieces of her organs were scattered next to her body.

“The baby girl had no flesh, it’s as if she was coal. The only thing that made the body seem like a human were the bones,” he said.

A neighbour, Elizabeth Oliphant, said this would not have happened if their houses had toilets.

“You can’t go to the toilets with an infant, they don’t flush and you see everyone’s mess there. Criminals stake you out when you go to the toilet and break in and take your belongings,” said Oliphant.

Warrant Officer Kay Makhubela said police could not confirm what had caused the fire, but had opened an inquest.

“Once the investigation is finished, we might charge the mother with culpable homicide,” he said.

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