Family members remove human remains after a shack fire. Picture: Social media
Family members remove human remains after a shack fire. Picture: Social media

Shocked family finds human remains days after authorities cleared scene of deadly shack fire

By Boipelo Mere Time of article published Mar 12, 2021

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Kimberley - Several days after three people, including two young children, burnt to death in a shack, family members had to remove more human remains even though the police and forensic experts cleared the scene.

According to family members of the three victims, they suffered further trauma when they were forced to pick up the remains of their loved ones at the burnt shack in Snake Park.

Matlakala Sekgoro, 30, and her two sons, Kitso, 5, and Boikhutlo, 3, died in the fire seven days ago.

The fire apparently started while Sekgoro and her two sons were sleeping.

Thirteen-year-old Koketso Sekgoro, who also lived in the shack, was not at home on the night of the incident as she had gone to buy water.

The bodies of the three victims were removed from the shack by the police and forensic services on the same night after the fire was extinguished.

However, several days later shocked family members found more human remains in the debris.

They are now questioning the “lack of respect and humanity” that they received after suffering such a traumatic ordeal.

Apparently a human skull, ribs, as well as other burnt human parts, including a hand, were found in the shack.

According to family members, they returned to the scene to seek closure before burying their loved ones. They had apparently raised questions regarding the remains that were removed by forensic services on the night of the fire.

According to them, when they asked mortuary staff about the remains, they were advised by forensic services to go and search the scene if they were in doubt.

They also accused the police and forensic services of not returning to inspect the scene, and asked why they were told to look for more remains while an investigating officer had been assigned to the case.

They said the police and forensic experts only returned to the scene after the family discovered more remains.

“What was shown to us at the mortuary did not make sense to us. What we saw was too little and we realised that it will never give us closure,” a family member said.

“We felt we had to know what we were going to bury.”

Another family member said that someone at the police or forensic services should be held accountable.

He said they were also angered by the “arrogant attitude” of one of the police officers who arrived at the scene, who apparently told them that the police could not be expected to see the remains “with the naked eye”.

“We can still not understand why the scene remained sealed off if the investigation was complete . . . as the police officer indicated to us.

“Something should have been done the moment they were called to fetch the remains the first time.

“Did they want us to witness dogs dragging around pieces of our family members before they completed their jobs? Was the trauma we suffered not enough?”

Family members also expressed concern about the surviving children of the deceased who learnt how the remains were left behind.

The Northern Cape Department of Health extended its heartfelt condolences to the family of the deceased.

Department spokesperson Lebogang Majaha said the Forensic Medical Service only responds to crime scenes for the collection of bodies following notification of a death from the SAPS.

Majaha indicated that the crime scene was attended to by two forensic officials.

He said that the SAPS are the custodians of all scenes where a person/s has died and forensic officials do not have jurisdiction to attend to scenes without notification from the SAPS.

According to Majaha, the Forensic Pathology Service did not receive notification from the police the following day to attend to a scene or for further investigation.

He said after the investigation was completed by the police, all relevant documents and human remains of three individuals were handed over to forensic pathology officers.

“After completion of the investigation by the police, the forensic pathology officer receives the documents from the investigating officer and takes custody of the human remains and property of the deceased.

“In the event that additional information is uncovered at the scene, which is something that happens and which may be relevant to the medicolegal investigation of a death, this information is reported to the police.

“The police will then inform the Forensic Pathology Service of the nature of evidence for collection without delay,” Majaha said.

At the time of going to press the police had failed to comment.

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