Two initiates‚ aged 18 and 19‚ burnt to death in Qumbu in the Eastern Cape when their initiation school‚ built of grass and straw‚ caught fire on Sunday morning‚ said the health department.
The fire occurred at around 6am‚ said spokesperson Sizwe Kupelo.
“There were 25 initiates in the structure and two of their care-givers‚” said Kupelo.
“They struggled to escape out of the structure because of the small opening [used as a door]. Those who were last in the queue were severely injured and died on the scene‚” said Kupelo.
At least ten others sustained injuries while some suffered from smoke inhalation.
Some were treated at a local hospital while others‚ requiring more intensive treatment were referred to other hospitals.
It was not immediately clear what had sparked the blaze which burnt the entire school to the ground.
“Police will investigate the incident‚” said Kupelo.
He said local community members had hailed the two care-takers as heroes.
“If it was not for their bravery‚ even more lives could have been lost‚” Kupelo said.
By Naledi Shange – TimesLIVE