Son dies set­ting fire to home after fight with mom

The Witness - - FRONT PAGE - NOKUTHULA NTULI • [email protected]­ness.co.za

A DO­MES­TIC dis­pute ended in the death of a son who had tried to at­tack his mother, be­fore set­ting fire to the fam­ily home yes­ter­day.

Samkelo Mlaba (29) was also shot dur­ing an al­ter­ca­tion with the po­lice who came to his mother’s aid in Ridge Park near the Grange yes­ter­day.

He later died after an ex­plo­sion in the fire he had set. Samkelo and his 65-year-old mother Mama Mlaba (whose first name had not been con­firmed last night) ap­par­ently had an al­ter­ca­tion over a gas cylin­der that Samkelo had been sent to re­fill.

Alexan­dra Road po­lice sta­tion spokesper­son Cap­tain Kholeka Mh­longo said the ar­gu­ment erupted when Samkelo got home and de­manded money from his mother, say­ing the re­fill had cost him more than she had given him as there was a prob­lem that needed to be fixed on the cylin­der.

Mh­longo said Mlaba phoned the po­lice with a com­plaint that Samkelo had as­saulted her. She said this was not the first time of­fi­cers had been called to the house over a do­mes­tic dis­pute be­tween the mother and son but the mother never wanted to open a case. “When they were hav­ing the fight he threat­ened that he was go­ing to buy petrol and burn the house. This was not the first time he had said that, but he never ac­tu­ally did it un­til [yes­ter­day]. We sus­pect that he had al­ready bought the petrol be­fore mak­ing his threats be­cause as the [po­lice] were talk­ing to his mother by the gate, he was in the yard,” she said.

Mh­longo said when the po­lice­men went into the yard to speak to him he came at them with a big knife and threat­ened them. The po­lice ap­par­ently ran onto the street and he fol­lowed them. She said a po­lice­man told him not to come close be­cause he was go­ing to shoot him, but Samkelo still chased him with the knife and said “I’m go­ing to stab you”.

“The male of­fi­cer then fired one shot and it went through his up­per right shoul­der.”

Ap­par­ently Samkelo then turned and ran back into the house where he set fire to the home. Mh­longo said as po­lice ran after him, there was an ex­plo­sion be­fore they reached the house. It is be­lieved that the gas cylin­der ex­ploded, but this was still be­ing in­ves­ti­gated yes­ter­day. “After the ex­plo­sion he came out of the house and tried to run to the neigh­bour’s house where his mother stood, but he col­lapsed and died be­fore he could reach her.” He suf­fered sec­ond de­gree burns. When The Wit­ness vis­ited the scene, the neigh­bours — many still in dis­be­lief — gath­ered on man­i­cured lawns along the street while the emer­gency ser­vices per­son­nel worked. They were shocked out of their quiet af­ter­noon when they heard the ex­plo­sion com­ing from the Mlaba home. “They oc­ca­sion­ally had ar­gu­ments — which is nor­mal in most fam­i­lies — but no one could have sus­pected that one day it would lead to a death,” said one of the res­i­dents.

How­ever, oth­ers said po­lice had been called to the house on numer­ous oc­ca­sions be­cause of the fights be­tween the Mlabas.

An­other neigh­bour said he had heard that Samkelo had a men­tal dis­or­der and was sup­pos­edly on med­i­ca­tion for it. “It’s re­ally tragic what hap­pened. I can’t re­ally imag­ine what Mama Mlaba and her fam­ily are go­ing through. Our pray­ers go out to them.”

PHOTO: IAN CARBUTT

Emer­gency ser­vices at the scene of a fire and shoot­ing at a house in Turn­bull Road, Ridge Park, yes­ter­day.

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