The 35-year-old woman’s three-week-old infant could not be saved from the fire and he was declared dead by paramedics, but his 3-year-old brother was saved.
Their 31-year-old father was admitted to Tygerberg Hospital with burn wounds and for smoke inhalation.
The suspect’s neighbours say they want nothing to do with her. Should she return to the area they will take the law into their own hands and punish her.
Police spokesperson Frederick van Wyk said circumstances surrounding the incident were under investigation.
Counselling has been arranged for the husband.
Neighbour Phumla Goniwe said residents responded after they were alerted to the fire. Upon inspecting they found the mother and her children inside the burning shack.
She said the children’s mother had a fight with her husband. Goniwe intervened, but was overpowered and she left.
“She said she’d rather die with her children than live a miserable life with her husband. She wanted to commit suicide and burn with her two children."
“She locked herself inside their home and poured paraffin all over the house before setting it alight. When the flames had already engulfed the shack she screamed calling for help. We could do nothing because she locked herself with chains and a burglar gate.”
Goniwe said she lost all her belongings as the fire spread and was left with only the clothes she was wearing at the time of the fire. “My children could not go to school today (Tuesday) because they have nothing left, even their books and uniforms burnt. What happened to that family is sad, bad.”
The City’s Disaster Risk Management department spokesperson Charlotte Powell said the affected families were provided with humanitarian relief in the form of hot meals, food parcels, blankets, clothing and vanity packs.
She said the City’s Informal Settlements department provided fire kits for those affected to rebuild their shacks.
Community leader Bulelwa Madlokazi said the law should take its course.
“That child was innocent and knew nothing. If she wanted to kill herself she should have done so and not included the children. We don’t want her to stay here anymore.”
A relative is guarding the surviving child.