Johannesburg - A pair of charred work boots lay only a few metres from a burnt-out container where two bodies were found at a Benoni construction site early on Thursday.
The bodies of two men were found burnt beyond recognition in a shipping container, with a third man badly burnt, but alive, found nearby.
The bodies were found with their hands tied behind their backs. The victims are believed to be employees of the construction company.
Ekurhuleni Disaster and Emergency Management Services spokesman William Ntladi said they received a call around 1.30am on Thursday informing them of a house on fire on the corner of Great North and Elgin roads.
On arrival, he said, they found a construction container alight. After extinguishing the blaze, they found the bodies of the men inside.
A third man was found a few metres away from the container, still alive but “suffering third-degree, 100 percent burn wounds”.
There were conflicting reports on whether this man’s hands were also tied.
Ntladi said they assisted the man, who was then taken to Tambo Memorial Hospital in Boksburg.
Staff at the hospital said the man was still alive on Thursday night, but in a critical condition and “not doing well”.
Kempton Park police were on the scene and investigating the matter, Ntladi added.
He said a generator was found inside the container alongside the bodies.
The identity of the initial caller was unknown, he said.
“The cause of the fire is unknown. Maybe petrol was part of the accelerant used to burn those people. That is the initial investigation of this, because their hands were tied - that shows criminal activity.”
The site is run by construction company KL Development.
When The Star contacted an official from the company on Thursday they simply responded with “absolutely no comment”.
Site manager Deon du Toit said however that the company and law enforcement officers were working on identifying the victims, after which they would notify their families.
Du Toit said it was unclear if the crime was internal. “It is very unfortunate, very tragic,” he said. “It’s not something that we plan. We trusted them... We have no suspicions yet.”
Ntladi said it appeared that construction workers had been working the night shift, although no other workers were present when police arrived on the scene.
Rodrick Nzima, an employee at the Engen petrol station across the road from the site, said a co-worker, who was on the night shift, said he saw the third victim running and screaming while on fire before falling to the ground.
Nzima said he arrived at work at 4.30am and saw several cars at the scene.
Police spokesman Captain Kay Makhubela said a case of murder, attempted murder and possible robbery had been opened as it appeared that items were stolen from the premises.
No arrests had been made.