A three-year-old Port Elizabeth boy suffered a horrific death as a fire raged though his Korsten home while he was trapped in the bathroom.
A visibly traumatised relative wept as he recalled little Elwyn Melville’s harrowing cries of “mommy, mommy” as the flames devoured the Curtis Street house on Friday night.
The fire started at about 7pm and the South End Fire Station received a call at about 7.10pm.
Tom Basson, 70, Elwyn’s great-uncle, who was in the house with the child and his foster mother at the time, told television news station eNCA that he was asleep at the time and had been awoken by Elwyn’s terrified screams.
He said he had rushed to help Elwyn’s foster mother, who was frantically trying to rescue him from the bathroom, but they could not save him.
“He cried ‘mommy, mommy’ and then he [fell], and nobody could get him out there because the whole house was full of fire,” Basson said in the TV interview, holding his head in anguish.
Shopkeeper Ali Baba, who was also interviewed by the television station, said he had been working late on Friday and had rushed over to help his neighbours try to rescue those inside the house, which was behind his shop.
“She [Elwyn’s foster mother] told us the small boy was still inside,” Baba said.
“We tried to break the window . . . and then we broke the door and found the boy at the toilet – he was dead and there was nothing we could do.”
The boy’s biological mother, Sylvia Melville, told eNCA: “I feel it with her [her sister, who is raising Elwyn] because she can’t sleep, she can’t do anything.
“She told me she was sorry, so I told her it wasn’t her fault. It was an accident.”
Police spokeswoman Colonel Priscilla Naidu confirmed that Elwyn had been at the home he shared with his foster mother and another person when the fire broke out.
“The child’s [foster] mother woke up when she smelt smoke in the house,” Naidu said.
“She woke up the other male person as the house was on fire.
“When they ran outside, they realised that the child was still in the house.
“But by this time, the flames had engulfed the house and the child burnt inside.”
She said police had opened an inquest docket. Neighbours did not want to comment yesterday, saying only that Elwyn’s mother had gone to stay with her sister in Kuyga.