Bay fire kills boy, 7, great-gran

A SEVEN-year-old boy, who was due to start school for the first time yesterday, and his elderly great-grandmother were killed in an electrical fire in Soweto-on-Sea yesterday.

Elsie Lindani, 92, and Xabiso Lindani were apparently asleep in the old woman’s room when the tragedy struck. It is not yet clear what triggered the chain of events, but the evidence included a gutted electrical box on the wall, a wire looping through to their room, from which was dangling a blackened light bulb, and the pervasive stench of smoke from an electrical blaze.

Lindani had lived for 40 years in the tiny house at the bottom end of Johnson Street, in one of the poorest areas of the township, and the boy was born there, neighbours said.

Xabiso normally slept together with his mother, Nomphumelelo, who is unemployed, in a single bed in a smaller room next to Elsie’s. 

Somehow the fire leap-frogged into this room as well. All that was left was a pair of Xabiso’s shoes. On Tuesday night, Xabiso’s mother Nomphumelelo, 28, did not sleep at home and the little boy, perhaps seeking comfort on the eve of his big day, went to sleep in his great-grandmother’s room.

Nomphumelelo, who was nearly speechless with grief, said she arrived back home early to get her child ready for school.

“I saw the people around my house. The door was open. I went inside and I saw my grandmother on the floor in the lounge – dead. Then I found my son in the room, on the floor next to the bed, also dead.

“He was an active boy and my only child. He was due to start school today at Sivuyile Primary here.” Bonisile Lindani, Elsie’s grandson, said the boy had “burns on his chest”. Elsie had no obvious signs of injury and it seems she was trying to get to the front door to open it when the smoke overcame her, he said.

Another family member, Mcingile Lindani, who lives in a shack in the yard, said he woke yesterday morning to hear a neighbour screaming. “I came out and she said there was something wrong inside the house.

I ran to the back door, and found this situation inside.” When The Herald left, Nomphumelelo was clearing up the charred remains of the clothes table she and her son shared.

In the street outside the house, Sinethemba Ngangexhanti, 13, said he knew Xabiso.  “We used to play soccer together here in the street. He was my friend.”

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