DANGER: A gas cylinder may have contributed to the killer fire in Dutywa. Picture: Sithandiwe Velaphi
Neighbours of the Dutywa family whose two young children were burnt beyond recognition on Monday have accused the victim’s mother of neglect.
A fire broke out on Monday morning at a local informal settlement, leaving Linamandla Qina, 18 months, and his sister Anelisiwe Qina, 7, dead.
Six-year-old Siwaphiwe survived because he was playing outside at the time.
Police reports say the two children were on their own when the fire started. Their grandmother was in a church service in Tsolo near Mthatha.
A concerned neighbour told The New Age that the two children had been neglected for a very long time by their mother, Rethabile Qina, 27.
Bongeka Phoswa alleged that Rethabile was “amusing herself” when the incident happened. Phoswa claimed that the very young Anelisiwe was the one cooking for Linamandla when Rethabile was absent.
“There was great neglect from the side of their mother. She is still young but that is no excuse for neglecting children the way she did.
“What happened to the kids was so painful. Where do you see a seven-year-old girl cooking for her baby brother,” asked Phoswa.
Though the young mother was widely condemned, nothing was said about the children’s father.
The cause of the fire, which also affected seven other shacks in the area, is not known. Residents however say a gas cylinder and paraffin stove cannot be ruled out.
The Social Development department said it was shocked. Spokesperson Gcobani Maswana said the incident sparked their new campaign, dubbed Operation Hlangula (Rescue), to be intensified in a bid to prevent recurrence.
“The aim of the campaign is to rescue children and the elderly to who are neglected in their respective homes,” Maswana told The New Age.