An off-duty police officer and three members of his family have died after a fire broke out when their lights went back on after load shedding in Wesbank.
The blaze, which killed Sergeant David Lekhetha, 48, his wife Thakane, 38, their daughters Nneheng, 8, and Naledi, 4, happened just hours after they celebrated Nneheng’s birthday on Friday afternoon.
The Mfuleni officer’s sister Mantsadi says she was on her way to work when she received a call on Saturday morning and she rushed to the Ringwood Street home which had been destroyed by the blaze.
“My family members informed me about the fire and we came immediately,” says a heartbroken Mantsadi.
“At the time my brother, wife and his two children had already died.
“His three other children and granddaughter were injured.”
She tells the Daily Voice that Thakane tried to save her children.
“I think that she had inhaled a lot of smoke while trying to get her kids out.
She managed to get her 18-year-old daughter and her granddaughter, 11-year-old and one-year-old kids out.
“Thakane was found in her room, while the two deceased daughters were in front of their parents’ room.
“None of them were burnt, they died of smoke inhalation.”
The City’s Fire and Rescue Service’s Jermaine Carelse confirmed the incident and said they were alerted to the fire at 12.50am on Saturday.
“On arrival at the scene, the officers were informed that the occupants were still inside the house.
Firefighters searched the premises and found the bodies of a man and woman, and two children.
“A teenage girl and a baby girl managed to escape the fire with minor burn wounds and were transported to hospital.
“The fire was extinguished at 1.30am and the scene handed over to SAPS.”
Police spokesperson Novela Potelwa says Mfuleni cops have opened an inquest docket.
“Police reports indicate a tenant on the premises heard screams from the main house and went to investigate.
“The tenant tried to gain access to the house.
“The bodies of the police sergeant and his wife were discovered in the bedroom of their home. Their two children aged eight and four years were found in the passage, already dead,” she says.
“All deceased persons are suspected to have died of smoke inhalation.”
Potelwa explains that the cause of the fire is the subject of the police investigation.