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Women who allegedly locked five children in shack unattended before deadly fire back in court

Several shacks on fire

Five children died in a shack fire last month after they had been allegedly locked in the premises by their mother and grandmother. File Photo

Published Sep 12, 2023


Two women, Lindiwe Machaka, 39, and Zanele Machaka, 37, from the Itireleng informal settlement near Laudium in Tshwane are set to return to court on Tuesday after five unattended children died in an inferno last month.

According to the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), Zanele lost her three children in the shack fire, while Lindiwe is said to be a grandmother of two of the children who perished in the inferno.

The two women will appear before the Atteridgeville Magistrate’s Court.

“They are facing five counts of culpable homicide for the death of five children aged one, two, four, five and six. Lindiwe is the grandmother to two of the children, aged one and two,” said Lumka Mahanjana, Gauteng regional spokesperson for the NPA.

“Zanele is mother to the rest of the three children.”

Gauteng MEC for Human Settlements and Infrastructure Development, Lebogang Maile visited the Itireleng informal settlement near Laudium after the tragedy. File Picture: Oupa Mokoena / African News Agency (ANA)

The NPA said the two women alleged locked the five children inside their shack, during the evening of August 27, and the two women went to a nearby tavern.

“It is alleged that, while the two were still out, the shack caught fire and all the children burnt and died on the scene,” said Mahanjana.

“The two women were arrested at the tavern the same day and are remanded in custody.”

Last week, the two women appeared before the Atteridgeville Magistrate’s Court, west of Tshwane, where the matter was postponed to September 12, for confirmation of address.

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.

“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.