Two children burnt to death

Two children burnt to death

LERIBE – THEY were found huddled together and lifeless; their charred tiny bodies burnt beyond recognition.
They died wrapping their small arms around each other.
The three-year-old and her five-year-old brother were burnt when a hut they were in caught fire in Linotšing Ha-Mokokoane in Leribe on Monday.
When thepost visited the family on Tuesday, the children’s mother, Mokulubete Chaba, was lying down in another hut weeping inconsolably.
She too sustained serious burn wounds.

She had tried to douse the flames with her bare hands when the hut was ablaze but all was in vain.
She was taken to Motebang Hospital where she treated as an outpatient.
A family friend, Maleshoane Masita, said Chaba was preparing supper on a makeshift stove (paola) inside the hut.
She was with her children who were sitting on a bed not far away from the stove.

Nearby was a stack of dry grass that was going to be used to repair the thatched roof of their hut.
The five-year-old child was crippled and could not walk without assistance.
The little sister was sitting beside him.

So, when the water boiled Chaba left the hut to go to another one to fetch corn flour to prepare the meal.
While she was in the other hut, Masita arrived and invited her to go for a jog.
As they were still talking about jogging, Chaba noticed some thick smoke coming from the hut where the children were.
The rushed there and found that the house was on fire.
“We tried to go into the house but the flames were so fierce that we couldn’t get in,” Masita said.
She called the little one to come out of the house but she replied that the house was on fire.
“We could hear the girl coming towards the door but she quickly went back. She was trying to pull her crippled brother,” Masita said.
“We heard them falling and there was silence,” she said.

Masita said they tried to stop the fire by pouring water as well as using their bare hands but the flames were too strong for them.
They called for help and villagers came to help but still the fire could not be doused.
Village men used a pick and shovel to make a hole near where the bed was and they managed to get inside to bring the dead children out.
“When we arrived we couldn’t go into the house,” a neighbour, Molise Mangoaela, said.

“We had to break the wall of the house using a pick and spade where we were told the bed was.”
“We kept on digging and when the hole was opened, I started removing the grass from the bed,” he said.
“I immediately smelt burned meat.”

When the men shifted the bed, they found the two children burned to death in a hug.
“I couldn’t believe what I saw,” Mangoaela said.
“It was so sad and painful to see them burned like that.”

Immediately after moving the bodies out of the burning house the hut collapsed to the ground.
It is thought that the children could have taken a grass twig and lit it, torching the grass that was in the hut.
Masita said he thinks the grass was too dry that is why the fire spread so quickly.

Water Minister Samonyane Ntsekele, who is also the MP for Tsikoane constituency where Linotšing falls, visited the family to pass his message of condolence. He pledged to help the family.
“This is a painful tragedy,” Ntsekele said.
“Losing a child cannot be easy. Only God heals and consoles those that are hurt,” he says.

Rose Moremoholo

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