FOR GIVING her boyfriend’s brother a plate of food, Khosi Hadebe was accused of having an affair.
It was a petty argument that ignited a full-blown inferno, and has left three children dead and the parents in a coma.
The children burnt to death in their small home in Zola, Soweto, yesterday morning after their father, Vusi Masuku, reportedly set their house alight in a family murder and attempted suicide.
Now Hadebe and Masuku are both comatose at Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital. They were rushed to the hospital with serious burns.
Neighbours said they had heard screams coming from the house just before midnight on Tuesday.
Several neighbours said the couple had been engaged in an argument, yelling so loudly that the details of their dispute could be heard in the area.
In an apparent drunken rage, Hadebe’s boyfriend of more than a decade attacked her, believing she was having an affair.
A group of neighbours responded to the screams, knocking on his door and telling him to calm down.
Half an hour later, he appeared to settle down and the neighbours returned home.
People at the scene said the 31-year-old man had left the house shortly afterwards and returned before 1am.
He had reportedly bought a can of petrol that he allegedly used to douse his children, Hadebe and himself.
Masuku had locked the door with a large steel padlock from the inside before lighting a match. All three boys – Mpumi, 3, Sanele, 8, and Xolani, 10 – died in the blaze.
Neighbours were woken by the screams and an explosion when the fridge compressor ignited.
The landlord and a group of concerned residents broke down the door to the burning home and dragged the couple out. It was too late to save the children.
The injured man’s sister told The Star that her brother had a history of abusing his partner of more than 10 years.
“He once burnt her with boiling water so badly she was in hospital for a month,” said the grieving sister.