Hero saves 13 girls from fire
He ran outside again, tore his T-shirt, dipped it in water and wrapped it around his mouth and nose to keep the smoke at bay. He climbed a tree dressed only in his shorts.
“I got up there and, with an iron rod, broke the window and slipped through it into the girls’ rooms. There was not much movement and only a few were up. The others were still sleeping,” he said.
“There was lots of smoke and it was dark. I walked towards the door and used the same iron rod to force it open.”
With the exit now cleared, some girls ran out, leaving Thabang behind to search for others. He reached for the first girl he stumbled on and dragged her out. From there, he rushed up and down the stairs, in and out of the building, dragging girls out of the fire. “Some were still sleeping and I went from room to room in the dark searching with my hands for the girls. “I woke up those who were sleeping and others were too confused and made it hard for me to get them out of the building because they were pulling out of my grip,” he said.
“At one point I found two girls, grabbed them both, using one arm for each of them, and rushed out. Once outside, other boys helped to pour water on them, as they were coughing and struggling to breathe.” One of the teachers was also there and rescued one girl, he said. “Another boy was also helping me search for more girls and take them out of the building. It was hot in there and the smoke was not making it easy for us, but we continued searching while other boys with water buckets were trying to put out the flames,” he said.
“When most of the girls were already out, I walked into the bathrooms. Before I entered, part of the burning roof collapsed in front of me. I am not sure if it was the geyser or burst pipes, but there was a lot of water coming from the roof. But I was too late to save the three girls.”
The rescued girls had lost their clothing and most of their belongings in the fire and all were still wearing their pyjamas. Moruti stepped in again.
“It was about 1am and too cold, especially for those who had had water poured over them. They were freezing and I went to the boys’ rooms and brought some of my clothes and gave to those I could … I was sad I could not help all of them,” he said.
Thabang couldn’t think of his own fear as he rescued the girls from the fire.
“I was only thinking of the girls who were trapped in their rooms. I was not scared at all. All I wanted was to save lives.” Thabang now knows what he wants to do with his life. “I have always dreamt of being a fireman and saving lives, but now I am sure this is what I want. I am very sad that the firemen arrived too late and the police could also not help much,” he said.
“If I could, I would have a fire station in each and every town and village, and not some distance away. Lives could have been saved had a fire station been close by.”
YOUNG SAVIOUR Deaf pupil Thabang Moruti climbed a tree to reach the top floor of the dormitory, where smoke and flames were ravaging the girls’ rooms. He used an iron bar to break a window and then climbed inside