Durban - The sister of the grandmother who died in a Chatsworth house fire with six others last week has spoken of her anguish.
On Friday, a family of six and their domestic worker died when their Kharwastan home caught fire.
Mukaraam Warsi, his wife Zainub Ebrahim, 29, their three children and the grandmother, Zarina Warsi, 58 (who was married to Mukaraam’s elder brother), were killed. The domestic worker has been identified as Maria Mdletshe, 25, a mother-of-two from uMlazi.
Speaking to the Daily News on Monday, Raheema Bibi Hussain, 65, broke down at her family home in Shallcross as she recalled how her sister, Zarina, had paid a surprise visit to her house on her return from Pakistan 11 days ago.
She said her sister had been living with her husband in Pakistan for the past year and had flown back to the country to finalise visa and travel documents for her Kharwastan family to take them on holiday.
“I remember Zainub coming into the house and telling me, ‘I’ve got a surprise for you in the car’. She said I must come outside to see all the wonderful clothing my sister sent me as gifts from Pakistan.”
Hussain said she was surprised when she found her sister in the vehicle.
“She jumped out of the car and gave me a big hug. I was so excited and invited her inside. She must have stayed for about 20 minutes. My son decided to take a picture of her. Little did we think that would be the last time we were going to see her,” Hussain said, her eyes welling with tears.
“We are so traumatised by everything and I can’t even think straight right now.”
Hussain described Zarina as an entertaining person who enjoyed watching Bollywood movies.
Mdletshe’s remains were released on Monday after the help from a member of the Bayview Muslim Burial Services. The individual, who did not want to be named, was also instrumental in assisting with the release of the remains of all the others, and arranging their funerals.
He said they were also raising funds to help Mdletshe’s sister and two children.
Mdletshe’s sister, Phumlile Mdletshe, said her two children, aged 7 and 15 months, had lived with her while Maria was away during the week.
“My sister only came home on Fridays, as she lived with the family she worked for. The children were taken care of by me. I don’t know how to handle all of this,” she said.
Mdletshe said her sister’s funeral would take place in uMlazi on Saturday.
Chatsworth MPL Maggie Govender said the Kharwastan Civic Association, which she is a part of, and the premier’s office was working to help Mdletshe’s family.
“We have contacted social development and the premier’s office is aware of the help that needs to be given. We need to check on whatever support we can give to the two children. We are also raising funds to assist with the funeral costs,” said Govender.
Another family in the house at the time, the Sulai-mans, who managed to escape the blaze, is being housed at the Aryan Benevolent Home (ABH) in Chatsworth.
Rajish Lutchman, chief executive of the ABH council, said the family’s basic care and needs were being met, while plans were being made to provide the family with permanent housing.
“We have provided trauma counselling and ensured that our victim empowerment programme is available to the family. This basically means that services which needed to be rendered in emergencies are offered to them,” he said.
“We are in talks with the Department of Housing to find a solution to help the family.”
Lutchman said that once the family moved into the new home, the community should come forward and provide assistance with things like furniture.