Mom arrested after two children perish in shack fire in Khayelitsha

Athanandi, 10

Athanandi, 10

Published Apr 17, 2024


Cape Town - A mother who admitted to leaving her two children locked in a shack which caught fire has been arrested for child neglect.

Melezwa Mntwini, 31, said she left daughter Athanandi, 10, and 5-year-old son Inganathi alone in Makhaza, Khayelitsha, to visit friends on Saturday night.

Inganathi, 5

A fire broke out in the locked shack at 3am and the children were burnt beyond recognition.

Police spokesperson Malcolm Pojie confirmed that the woman had been arrested.

“This needs to serve as a reminder that parents are the primary caregiver and custodian who are responsible and accountable for their children’s safety and well-being.

“We can confirm that we have indeed opened a case of child neglect in connection with the death of the two children, over and above the inquest,” he said.

“This case is investigated by the Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences Unit based in Khayelitsha.

“The investigating officer on Monday arrested the 31-year-old mother of the children who faces two counts of child neglect.

“She is expected to appear in the Khayelitsha Magistrate’s Court on the mentioned charges.”

The mom said she had received a call from her sister at 3am informing her of the fire.

“I left them alone at home and locked the door like I would normally do when I go out at night.

“I unplugged everything and went to my friends, because it was the weekend.

“While I was out, I got the dreaded call from my sister, who informed me of the fire.

“I didn’t understand because there was nothing that could have caused the fire.”

She said when she got to the scene, her children were still alive.

“They were screaming for help and I asked the community members who were trying to extinguish the fire to break the iron sheet of the bedroom so we could get them out, but they didn’t listen.

“I knew they were going to die when the flames reached the bedroom.”

The woman believed someone killed her children.

“My neighbour told me when she went outside sthat he saw my door burning from the outside.

“When I arrived, the kitchen was ablaze and that made me suspicious that it was not an electrical fault. And also my shack was the only place that caught fire, and we built these shacks very close to each other.”

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