Inquest docket opened after student, 28, dies in fire at her Gonubie house

By Bhongo Jacob

East London police have opened an inquest after a woman died when her home went up in flames in Gonubie this week.

TRAGIC END: Walter Sisulu University student Athini Konyana, 28, of Gonubie died of burns sustained in a fire at her house on Monday. Picture: SUPPLIED

Walter Sisulu University student Athini Konyana died after being rescued from her mother’s burning house.

She died from burn wounds.

Her two-year-old son was rescued in time.

Traumatised neighbour Paulos Soboyisi said builders from a neighbour’s house had heard screams coming from Konyana’s home around 1pm.

“When I arrived, the house was already in flames.

“The builders saw smoke coming out of the house and ran to see what was happening.

“When they arrived, the main gate was locked and they tried to jump from the neighbour’s house to get inside.”

He said the builders were able to rescue Konyana’s son Nkazimlo, who was near the door when the builders gained entry.

“One of the builders took the young boy outside.

“The builders managed to break the windows and they pulled Athini out,” said Soboyisi.

He said the 28-year-old was sleeping at the time of the incident.

“Athini was sleeping inside and the domestic worker went next door to ask for flu medication – and that is when the builders heard her [the domestic worker] screaming out Athini’s name.”

The cause of the fire is unknown.

“We searched around and we cannot see anything that could have led to the fire.

“The plugs were not connected, there was no gas and they had no electricity in the house.

“The pots also had food in them but seemed as if they were still going to cook.’’

Konyana was doing her final year of a building and construction national diploma at WSU’s Chislehurst campus.

Close friend Andrea Botha said the Gonubie community had shown solidarity in helping the family.

“This family is so special to me, Athini and I had just spoken a few days before … and my daughter loved her like a sister.

“On my Facebook page you can see how the community is really stepping up with help from all aspects – to help them rebuild their home, and assist anyhow.”

Police spokeswoman Warrant Officer Hazel Maqala said an inquest docket had been opened.

She said the fire had started inside the house and that police suspected an electrical fault.

Mqala confirmed that Konyana had been taken to Frere Hospital, where she was treated for burn wounds, but later died. — DDC


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