Isak Kammies died in a shack fire at around 3am on Saturday morning. The details surrounding the cause of the fire are unknown at this stage.
Kammies’ mother, Elizabeth, cried quietly on Sunday as family members spoke about how appalled they were with the manner in which the forensic officials handled the body of the deceased
They said that dogs had ate Kammies’ remains, which were apparently left behind by forensic officials who had attended to the scene of the shack fire.
“The fire occurred at about three o’clock on Saturday morning. The fire brigade came out to extinguish the blaze and forensic officials were on the scene to remove the remains of our child. Our trauma and disbelief however got worse after the forensic officials left some remains behind. Dogs were seen eating some of the charred flesh,” the family members said.
“One of the deceased’s aunts went and collected the remains. There was a big part that looked like the back of the deceased, which was also left behind by the forensic officials.”
The family said that attempts to get the forensic officials to return and collect the remains were unsuccessful.
“We called the police several times. Almost every family member assisted in calling. One family member called the police more than 10 times. The police never came and we resorted to going to the Phakamile Mabija police station; and only then we got assistance. It was already after 11am at that time.
“We also asked for an ambulance for our neighbour who witnessed the entire ordeal, as the police never sent her for medical observation after seeing such a horrific incident,” they added.
The family said that they have laid a complaint with the commissioner.
“We are truly heartbroken about this. This is a disrespectful way to treat someone who has died. We demand better action from authorities.
“We are mourning, yet we still have to run around and request people to do their jobs properly.
“The scene was never cordoned off. We know that authorities usually cordon off scenes, especially in instances where someone has died. Why did they fail to do that this time?
“We heard that forensic officials apparently said that it was too dark for them to see all the remains. Why did they not wait until the sun rose in order for them to collect and remove all the remains? That behaviour is unacceptable and we will not leave it at that,” the family vowed.
A neighbour, Marie Adam, wept as she recalled the incident.
Adam, who was clearly still in a state of shock on Sunday, said that she was devastated by the fact that she could not save Kammies.
“I heard his scream his last words were ‘aai, my mamma’. I will never forget that voice.”
Adam said that she was awoke to what sounded like someone fighting in the shack.
“I was sleeping on the couch. I was woken up by cramps in my leg and I heard some noises that sounded like a sigh and someone fighting. I woke my daughter up and asked her who was fighting inside the shanty. My daughter did not get up and I went to peek through one of the holes in my shanty and I saw the blaze. I shouted to my daughter that the shanty was on fire and rushed outside.”
Adam said that she immediately raised the alarm and tried to get other neighbours to help.
“I went outside and shouted to people to come and help as there was someone trapped in the fire. The next moment I heard something explode inside. People came and I again told them that there is someone still inside. They, however, did not believe me”
She said that community members used dirt in an attempt to extinguish the fire as there was no water tap in the street.
“We have got no water in this area and use the communal tap a few streets away to get water. There was no way that someone could connect a tap to extinguish the blaze.”
Adam said that she went back into her shanty as the ordeal was too traumatic.
“I went back into the shanty. Some community members came to me after the fire brigade had extinguished the fire and told me there was indeed a person inside the shanty. I told them that I was not crazy that I had told them there was someone trapped inside. It is, however, too late now as he has died and there was nothing I could do to help him.”
Kammies’ family, however, told her that they were grateful for all her efforts.
“We cannot blame her for the incident she and the community members tried to help but there was nothing they could do. We are grateful for everything she did. This ordeal has left her scarred and we share in her pain,” they said.
Police spokesperson, Captain Olebogeng Tawana, confirmed the incident.
“Police have opened an inquest after a 21-year-old man was killed when his shack was engulfed by fire. The incident happened at the Marula shanties in Greenpoint at about 3am on Saturday morning. Apparently the deceased was asleep inside the shanty when it caught fire and burned down. The cause of the fire is unknown at this stage, however the investigation is ongoing to determine the exact cause,” Tawana said.
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