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Five people including two children, aged 4 and 5, perish in Khayelitsha fire

Five family members, including a child, died in an informal settlement at Site B, Khayelitsha, in what was allegedly an arson attack. Picture: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency (ANA)

Five family members, including a child, died in an informal settlement at Site B, Khayelitsha, in what was allegedly an arson attack. Picture: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency (ANA)

Published May 16, 2022

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Cape Town - Five family members, including two children aged four and five, were killed in a fire in the France Informal Settlement in Site B, Khayelitsha.

The fire is said to have occurred at about 4.30am on Sunday.

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After it was doused, firefighters recovered the bodies of 53-year-old Nosimpiwe Tafeni, her daughter Aphelele Tafeni, 17, her grandchildren Nkazimlo Tafeni, 5, and Melokuhle, 4, and an unknown person only known as Zakhele, 30.

Nosimpmiwo’s sister, Ntombizanele Gqomfa, said that since learning of her sister’s and niece’s deaths she has been shocked and devastated.

“My sister was in the process of divorcing her husband. She had just recently moved into that shack to live her life. None of us ever thought she would meet such a terrible end in it.”

Gqomfa said her sister’s daughter, with her two children, was visiting her mother .

“Now they’re all dead. This is not something you can make sense of. I have only ever seen such things happen on TV, so to witness it myself as a family member was so painful,” she said.

Gqomfa said fire seemed to be burning from the door, restricting access into and out of the shack, suggesting foul play.

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“People tried to rescue them. They tried to put out the fire as we waited for the fire department, but nothing was working. They even resorted to trying to tear down the shack, but even that was futile, it was just too sturdy,” she said.

The City’s Fire and Rescue Services said the Lansdowne Road fire crew responded to the incident. The firefighters said that when they arrived the structure was engulfed in flames.

Fire and Rescue Services spokesperson Jermaine Carelse said: “As firefighting operations ensued, the crew discovered the bodies of two women, a man and two children. They had succumbed to fatal burn wounds. The fire crew was able to extinguish the blaze just after 5.20am, and the scene was handed over to the SAPS just after 6am.”

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Police spokesperson Frederick van Wyk said Khayelitsha police opened an inquest docket.

“The cause of the fire is unknown at the moment. Anyone with any information is kindly requested to contact Crime Stop anonymously on 08600 10111,” he said.

[email protected]

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