Home News City girl tells of shack fire that claimed mom, brothers’ lives

City girl tells of shack fire that claimed mom, brothers’ lives


13-year-old had to watch helplessly as her mother and two younger brothers died in a shack fire in Snake Park

Aunt Dimakatso Mancwe is seen with 13-year-old Koketso Sekgoro and her eight-year-old brother, Lethabo, who could not hold back his tears. Picture: Danie van der Lith

A DEVASTATED 13-year-old girl has described how she had to watch as her mother and two of her younger brothers died in a shack fire in Snake Park, Galeshewe.

The girl, Koketso Sekgoro, recounted how the vicious blaze engulfed the shack and her mother, Patricia “Matlakala” Sekgoro, and two younger brothers, Kitso and Boikhutlo Sekgoro, aged five and three, perished in the fire on Friday night at around 9pm.

Her eight-year-old brother, Lethabo, was rescued by a neighbour and rushed to the Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe Hospital after sustaining burn injuries. He was discharged the next day.

Koketso said that she watched helplessly as the fire spread and her family tried to find a way out of the blaze.

Her mother’s body and those of her two young brothers were found behind the door of the shack after the fire had been extinguished.

The three deceased family members – Kitso, 5, Boikhutlo, 3, and Patricia “Matlakala” Sekgoro, 30. Picture: Supplied

Koketso, her brother Lethabo and other family members are currently undergoing trauma counselling from various stakeholders, including a local church.

The Kagisho police have opened an inquest docket and have urged members of the community to come forward with any information that will help in their investigation.

Picture: Danie van der Lith

Koketso, who had gone to the shop to buy water, recalled how she started running home in the dark on Friday night after seeing that the shack was surrounded by smoke.

She said that she started banging on walls and screaming for help in an effort to alert everyone, including the neighbours.

“I looked through our window and saw my brothers sleeping,” said Koketso. “Kitso and Boikhutlo woke first and I told them to wake Lethabo, who took longer to wake up.

“I told them to splash him with water, which they found in a jug, and he eventually woke up.

“They were all dizzy from the smoke and tried to open the steel door, but it was too difficult for them because it was locked.

“Kitso and Boikhutlo looked scared and returned to the bedroom where my mom was sleeping and managed to wake her.

“That is when I realised that the fire had become more vicious as it had spread through the curtains that divided the rooms.

“I could not see clearly either, because there was too much smoke.

“Everything was happening so fast.

“One of the neighbours managed to break open one of the zinc plates, spotted confused Lethabo and grabbed him.

“By then the neighbours were also hard at work trying to extinguish the fire with buckets of water and a hose.

“At this stage it was impossible to look into the window as I could not see anything because of the smoke.

“The neighbour could also not attempt to save anyone else inside the shack because the flames were too strong.

“All I heard was the screams from them, which later faded when the flames became uncontrollable.”

Koketso was sharing her story while her clearly traumatised younger brother Lethabo sat in her lap.

The children’s aunt, Dimakatso Mancwe (right), and grandmother, Zelma Sekgoro (left), are seen at the scene of the shack fire. Picture: Danie van der Lith

Her aunt, Dimakatso “Sololo” Mancwe, said she received a call from someone who informed her that something had happened to Matlakala.

She said she rushed to the shack and found firefighters busy clearing the area in order to take over from the community in extinguishing the fire.

“I saw the fire from a distance. The flames that I saw were devilish,” said Mancwe.

“I did not ask anyone where my sister was, but I had a bad feeling.

“I saw one of the neighbours carrying Lethabo, covered in a wet cloth.

“I heard one of the firefighters tell his colleague that there was a smell of human flesh. They asked for the family members and told me that they suspected there was someone inside the shack during the fire.

“Reality struck when the body of an adult was removed from the shack, along with two tiny bodies.”

Family members speak to the medie. Picture : Danie van der Lith

Sol Plaatje executive mayor Patrick Mabilo visited the family on Saturday to convey his condolences.