Father and his one-year-old babygirl burnt beyond recognition in a fire outbreak

A South African family is struggling to come to terms with the loss of their 28-year-old relative and his one-year-old daughter after they were killed in a blaze.

Sithembiso Mawesa and his daughter Lithalethu Gcolothelo died when their shack, in an informal settlement in Bonga Drive, Nonkqubela in Khayelitsha, caught alight on Sunday.

Mawesa’s girlfriend, Lithalethu’s mother, who was also in the shack, is recovering in hospital.

Cape Town Fire and Rescue Service spokesperson Theo Layne said about 25 residential structures were destroyed in the blaze, leaving 125 persons displaced. Nokwezi Mdudo, Mawesa’s grandmother, who spoke on behalf of the family, said she was awoken by Mawesa’s mother early in the morning, telling her about the fire.

“She was crying, shouting that Sithembiso’s home was burning and she couldn’t locate him,” said Mdudo.

When the family went over to the informal settlement, less than 200 metres away, they saw the blaze.

“At the time the fire was very strong. The whole shack was burning. We searched for him, and only when the fire was out did we see the remains. It was both him and his daughter,” said Mdudo.

The previous night Mawesa had visited his family, and spent some time with his cousins. He later met up with his girlfriend, and the couple went to sleep at his home.

“We hear that the two got into a fight. Then there was silence,” she said.

The dead man’s family said they were struggling to deal with the loss. His mother struggled to speak.

“When we think of how he was with all of us, it seems as if he was here to bid us goodbye. He was so happy and full of life.

“For him to die like this, so unexpectedly, is a shock.

“How does one begin to accept two deaths of such young people?” she asked.

Ward 93 councillor Thando Pimpi said the absence of water and sanitation had contributed to the rapid spread of the fire.

The cause of the fire was not yet known.


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