Cape Town – A traumatised mother, who lost her son in a fire on Sunday, says she made a shocking discovery on Monday when she found his feet in the bed where he died.
The family from Kosovo informal settlement in Philippi is now demanding answers from the forensics workers who were sent to collect seven-year-old Lithemba Gxiva’s body on Sunday.
Mom Ncebakazi Gxiva, 45, says she found her son’s feet and bones in the bed while cleaning.
“The fire started in the room. I am not sure how it started as I woke up in the hospital after the fire, and [yesterday] morning while we were cleaning up, we found his clothes, feet and more bones in the bed he was sleeping in,” she said on Monday afternoon.
“The [forensic] people did not take everything. We placed his remains in a bag.
“We have called the police, but we’ve been waiting for hours for them to come and collect the remains.”
The City’s Fire and Rescue Services spokesperson, Jermain Carelse, confirms the fire was extinguished by 2am, but referred queries about the remains left behind to the Western Cape Health Department.
“The response comprised of three fire engines, two water tankers, a rescue vehicle and 21 staff members,” he says.
“The fire was extinguished just after 2am. One male minor sustained fatal burn wounds as a result of the fire. The cause of the fire is unknown.”
Lithemba was in Grade 1, and the youngest of four children; he has a 13-year-old brother and two sisters, aged 20 and 23.
His mother says finding her son’s remains in this way has scarred her for life.
“I am not OK. I do not know how to feel. I need counselling, my children are all traumatised, but we are not by the means to pay for counselling,” the heartbroken mother sobbed.
Ncebakazi says the family has been left homeless after losing the house in which they’ve lived for 18 years. And they do not have the money to lay Lithemba to rest.
“I don’t know what to do, where to turn. I am unemployed and so are my daughters. There is no income in our home. I don’t know how I am going to bury him,” she says, with tears pouring down her cheeks.
If you would like to assist the Gxiva family, you may contact Ncebakazi on 063 950 5807.