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Engcobo widow, children and grandson die in house fire, foul play suspected

Caleb Tayi

A 46-year-old widow, her three children and grandson have died at KwaTshaphile Village in Ngcobo, in the Eastern Cape, after their house was allegedly set alight.

Neighbours say they heard screams in the early hours of Saturday and when they went to investigate they found the house on fire. All five victims were burnt beyond recognition.

The incident has shaken the whole KwaTshaphile village. The victims’ family is in agony. They say this is not the first time the 46-year-old woman has been attacked.

“We are heartbroken as the family. There’s also a disabled child among the deceased. In 2019, the woman’s hut was burnt down. The suspects were known and they were made to rebuild the house. Another incident happened in June this year. They found poured petrol around the rondavel and set it alight but the fire burnt out,” explains family spokesperson, Chris Mshotana.

The provincial government has condemned the incident.

“This is wrong. I’m sure it’s a man who did this. We need to work together with communities to ensure perpetrators are brought to book,” says Eastern Cape premier, Oscar Mabuyane.

Police spokesperson, Thembinkosi Kinana, says officers have opened a murder case and no one has yet been arrested.

“It is alleged that the house caught a blaze and the family had difficulties escaping, as the house had burglar doors. All those who were inside the house were burnt beyond recognition. Circumstances surrounding the incident are it known at this stage,” Kinana says.

The killing of women is rife in the Ngcobo area. In 2016, a 42-year-old man attacked and stabbed to death his two aunts, accusing them of witchcraft.

In 2015, an elderly woman with her daughter and grandson were hacked to death inside their house at Ndlunkulu Village.

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