Cape Town - A Bonteheuwel family is struggling to rebuild their lives as they mourn the loss of their eight-year-old daughter following a devastating fire at their home.
Liberia Dondes died of smoke inhalation after a fire ripped through the family’s home on 2 November.
Her heartbroken mother, Ebeniez, said the family had been informed they would not be able to return to their home due to the extensive damage.
On Tuesday night, family and friends gathered at the Anglican Church of the Resurrection for an emotional memorial service to remember the young girl.
Ward councillor Angus McKenzie fought back tears as he described how he found Ebeniez sitting on the pavement holding her dead daughter.
“The loss of Liberia is unspeakable and I stand here very sad. The loss of your daughter runs deeper and it was felt throughout the entire community,” he said facing the mother who sat surrounded by her daughter’s cousins and school friends.
“We have seen an outpouring of love and grief as people came out to share their memories of her. I will never forget that night and how you sat on the pavement. All I saw was hopelessness in your eyes.”
Liberia was buried at Maitland Cemetery on Wednesday.
Ebeniez said the family had moved into a Wendy house in the front of the property as they have been told the main house is not structurally safe.
City Fire and Rescue Services spokesperson, Theo Layne, said the little girl suffered smoke inhalation and CPR was initiated, but was unsuccessful.
The Grade 2 learner from Cedar Primary School was the only fatality. Her aunty, Virginia Booysen, 49, suffered several burns and was taken to hospital.
Ebeniez said they were later told a relative in one of the backyard dwellings had fallen asleep with a lit candle which fell over and started the fire.
“What made this whole week worse is having to use the neighbour’s toilet and asking for water. They told us we would get a mobile toilet and that will make things easier,” said the mom.
“The children at her school made a song for her and when they sang it, I couldn’t hold back. It broke me.”
McKenzie said the house had been assessed by the City’s engineers and closed off as it was unsafe.
“The toilet will be brought in and we will be restoring the water supply to the property. For now, for their own safety, we have closed up the house.”