Tragic Loss: Six South Sudanese Children Perish in Kajansi Blaze

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A day after a horrifying fire claimed the lives of six South Sudanese children in their rented apartment at Namulanda B Zone, Kajjansi Town Council – Wakiso District in the wee hours of Wednesday, residents in the area are still gripped in shock. 

One of the children referred to as a heroine, died while trying to save her siblings from the inferno.
Ms Elizabeth Tumushabe, a neighbour, said at the time of the incident, the mother, Ms Ayneg Bakhita and the children, were inside the house. The father had recently travelled out of the country.

“We knocked on the door and we were able to rescue the mother and one of the eldest daughters from the inferno.  However, the girl went back inside the house to the bathroom to get water and put out the fire to save her siblings but she got trapped and she died from there. I believe when they woke up from sleep, they were unable to locate the keys to open the door to run outside, which prompted neighbours to break the door,” she said.

Ms Maria Goretti Nalwada, another neighbour,  said she responded to the fire together with her husband and joined efforts to put it out before an explosion from the house interrupted their efforts.

“We found when the house was on fire, with the flames raging on, spreading to ours house. My husband got a pole and started hitting those tree branches that had started catching fire and spreading it toward us. After we started pouring water to put out the fire. As I was still sending him water in a bucket, we heard something like a gas explosion, that is when we failed and waited helplessly until the fire brigade arrived,” she said.

Ms Nalwada added: “Sometime back, that family had complained of a short circuit which had nearly burnt them in the night.”   Ms Nalwada further said another neighbour and his family barely escaped with their families.

“He retreated back inside, woke his wife, their three children and housemaid, who were in the next room. They got out and he was able to save his family but they lost all their property. He only managed to get out in a boxer and his wife in a night dress,” Ms Nalwada said. 

Mr Paul Senfuuka, who was among the first rescuers, said after rescuing the mother who was asking for water while complaining of suffocation due to inhalation of smoke, they tried to rescue the rest of the children in vain.

“One young man got water in a small bucket and poured it on her water as she cried out to us that she had left five children inside the house,” he said.

Mr Henry John, family friend, said the deceased’s mother survived with minor injuries. 
“I had not completely fallen asleep. So, when I heard the loud bangs on the gate, I recognised her voice and came out. She told me to go and save her children. I left her with my wife here and ran to her home about 400 metres and found the house burning. I found people there trying to help put out the fire,” he said.

He added: “She told me as she was sleeping, she felt heat and smelt smoke. The residents I found told me that there was one daughter who had come out of the house but went back to try and save the rest. Unfortunately, she didn’t survive.”

Mr Al Bashir Kayondo, the Kajjansi Town Council mayor, said there is a need for people to follow the law by leaving a space between their residences to allow easy access to fire brigades for such emergencies.

“If people had access to that residence, we believe we could have been able to rescue some of these children but because some of these buildings were constructed when this place was still a sub-county, they were not planned well,” he said.

Mr Joseph Ssemwogerere, the area councillor, said they rushed to the scene after receiving news of the burning houses, but it was too late.

Mr Luke Owoyesigyire, the Kampala Metropolitan Police deputy spokesman, said in a statement: “The territorial police at Entebbe are investigating a fire outbreak that took place today, May 15, at approximately 1am in Mulanda B, Kisubi. Upon receiving a distress call from a community member, the OC of Kisubi Police Station immediately responded. The fire had engulfed the residence of Bakita Ayang, a South Sudanese national, where six children were trapped. Despite efforts by community members to rescue them, the children, aged between two and 16, succumbed to the fire.” 

Mr Owoyesigyire added: “The Kisubi Police Station dispatched officers to the scene, along with firefighters from Entebbe Police Division. The fire was eventually extinguished, and the bodies of the children were recovered and taken to the city mortuary for postmortem examinations. Initial observations suggest that the fire originated from an electronic kettle left unattended in the sitting room, connected to a socket. Further inquiries will be conducted to determine the exact cause of the fire.”

Deceased

The deceased include Hibba William (16), Gith William (15), Dijwok William (12), Achwanj William (9), Teggi William (4) and Gloria William (2).

Credit: Daily Monitor

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