Four children perish in Alexandra fire

Cape Town 12 February 2011: In the early hours of the morning a fire sweept through the Imizamo-Yethu informal settlement in Cape Town. At least 150 shacks were destroyed, leaving over 900 homeless. Residents attempt to slow down the fire by throwing rocks at burning structures, causing them to collapse, whilst others dismantle nearby shacks using hammers, crowbars, and pangas to slow down the flames. Among the broken boards and shattered glass only the charred fragments of the ordinary life of the residents of Imizamo-Yethu remain. Shack Fires. Destruction and loss in the midst of the South African housing crisis. Picture: Gareth Smit


Four children between the ages of three and six died after their home caught fire in Alexandra north of Johannesburg in the early hours of Sunday morning.

The eldest, who was aged six, died in the fire while the other three died later in hospital.

Police say the siblings were asleep when their blanket caught fire, a 14 year old child managed to escape and call for help.

Police spokesperson Stephen Malatji says the mothers of the children left them alone when they went on a drinking spree.

Malatji says, “Their mothers, at the time of the tragedy were not around. We are being told they usually leave them alone and go on a drinking spree. One of the mothers was found in a shebeen, she was taken in and now she’s behind bars at Alexandra police station.”

“We are still looking for a second one,” adds Malatji

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