Cape Town -

A father was left blaming himself for the death of his 9-month-old baby and his girlfriend’s injuries after a fire destroyed their shack in Delft.

“I was too late. I was supposed be there to protect them. I should’ve done more,” Ondela Mtati said.

On the evening of Freedom Day, his 9-month-old son, Base Singxo, and his girlfriend, Zanele Singxo, were asleep in their backyard dwelling in Delft South.

The shack was attached to the house of Base’s grandmother, Pamella Mtati.

Mtati had left to go to his friend’s house only 10 minutes before the fire started.

Fire and Rescue spokeswoman Sharon Bosch said the cause of the fire was unknown.

On Monday, Ondela Mtati said he hated himself for not being there to save his child.

“I don’t want to be here. I want to get away and never come back,” he said.

Mtati’s only photograph of his son and girlfriend was destroyed in the fire. Pamella Mtati said she was woken by Singxo’s screams for help.

“All she was saying was: ‘My child, my child. Someone save my child.’

“When I ran outside to see what was happening, I saw the fire. Zanele and Base were trapped inside.” Mtati said.

“It was difficult for me to do anything because the fire was so big and the smoke was tightening my chest.”

Neighbour Edward van Wyk, who was also woken by the screams saved Singxo, but said he didn’t know there was a baby in the shack.

“I wet myself with water from the hosepipe and used a spade to break down the door,” he said.

“Zanele was sitting on the floor, unconscious. Her face and arms were badly burnt. I picked her up and laid her on the pavement.

“I didn’t even know that there was a baby inside. The mother couldn’t speak. If I had known, I would’ve went in and saved the baby first,” Van Wyk said.

Laticia Pienaar, spokeswoman at Tygerberg Hospital, said Singxo was in a stable condition.

Police spokesman Tembinkosi Kinana said an inquest docket had been opened.

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Cape Times