Two sisters, Lindiwe Machaka, 39, and Zanele Machaka, 37, from the Itireleng informal settlement near Laudium, in Pretoria, appeared before the Atteridgeville Magistrate’s Court following the death of five unattended children in a fire last month.
The Machaka sisters are facing five counts of culpable homicide, for the death of the five children aged one, two, four, five and six-years-old. The sisters are also facing a charge of child neglect.
“During their brief appearance, the two asked to be released on an R500 bail. However, the magistrate told the court that she intended to grant them R5,000 bail each due to the seriousness of the offence,” National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) Gauteng regional spokesperson, Lumka Mahanjana said.
However, the two siblings, through their legal representative, told the court they would be unable to pay the R5,000 bail amount.
“The matter was then postponed to September 15, for a report from the department of correctional services to check if the two sisters are suitable to be placed under correctional supervision after bail is granted,” said Mahanjana.
The NPA said Lindiwe was two of the children’s grandmother. Her grandchildren were aged one and two. While Zanele was the mother of the other children who died in the fire.
“It is alleged that on the evening of August 27, the two women locked the five children inside their shack, and went to a nearby tavern,” Mahanjana, said.
“It is alleged that while the two were still out, the shack caught fire and all the (five) children burnt and died on the scene.”
In the aftermath of the tragedy, the two women were allegedly found at the tavern, and they were arrested, before they were remanded in custody by the court.
Last month, IOL reported that that the five children, including a one-year-old girl, had died in the inferno which destroyed at least six shacks in the Itireleng informal settlement.
“Firefighters arrived on the scene to find multiple shacks engulfed by fire and immediately started with firefighting operations,” spokesperson for the Tshwane emergency services department, Thabo Charles Mabaso, said at the time.
“Five remains of children burnt beyond recognition were discovered in the ruins of the shacks after the fire was extinguished.”
The Tshwane emergency services department has called on parents and guardians to closely monitor children at all times.
“We call upon parents and caregivers to ensure that children are always left under the care of an adult and in a safe environment,” said Mabaso.