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Community rallies to build family a home after granddad and grandson die in a house fire

Community rallies to build family a home after granddad and grandson die in a house fire

Durban – Before going to work on Monday morning Ashveer Maharaj and his wife Omgeezwa Dayise kissed and hugged their son Ashton Enzo goodbye as usual.

Little did they know that it would be the last time they’d get to see him or hold him in their arms.

Just hours after leaving their home in Brookdale, Phoenix, Ashveer, received a call from his neighbour informing him that his house was on fire.

Before he could get to his home, Ashveer was told that Ashton and his father, Vinodhkumar Maharaj, 60, had died in the blaze.

Ashveer, works as a driver, and his wife, Omgeezwa, is an assistant at a dental surgery. They shared the three-bedroom home with Vinodhkumar.

"A neighbour had seen my house on fire on his CCTV camera and informed me about it. All I could think about was my son and his safety. I called my wife to tell her what was happening and she left work to go to our home."

Ashveer said while on his way home he looked at their community chat group on WhatsApp and saw messages and pictures about the fire.

"By the time I got to my home, my baby and father had died. I could not believe what had happened. Just last week we celebrated Enzo's third birthday. He was everything to me and my wife. We worked hard to ensure he had everything he needed.

"His birth was one of the best things that ever happened to us. Enzo was a loving child. He loved playing with his toys and watching cartoons. Every morning before I left home I would hug and kiss him goodbye. Knowing he is no more is too painful for my wife and I. He loved my father. They were always together. While we worked my father cared for him. He was a good man."

Ashveer said their entire home was destroyed.

"All our clothing, furniture and appliances were burnt. Our baby's belongings were all destroyed. We don't know what caused the fire. My wife and I cannot live in the home. We have a small outhouse on the property which we have been living in since the fire.

Community rallies to build family a home after granddad and grandson die in a house fire
Vinodhkumar Maharaj.

"On Tuesday morning we were going through the rubble trying to clean up with the help of community members. It is hard to cope with losing our child and my father, two important people to us. I don't know how we are going to rebuild."

Pastor Mervyn Reddy, a community activist, said he had launched an initiative for the family called Build A Home.

The initiative will look at rebuilding the home. We appeal to anyone who would like to assist the family to come forward."

"The death of Enzo and Vinodh has left the community broken. There is sadness in the air. The family just celebrated Enzo's birthday with a small party, and a week later they are reeling from this tragedy. They have nowhere to go. In a few weeks, we will be celebrating Christmas and this family has lost everything."

Reddy said they had partnered with Pinetown Funeral Services to conduct the funerals later this week for free.

Community rallies to build family a home after granddad and grandson die in a house fire
Pastor Mervyn Reddy with Omgeezwa Dayise and Ashveer Maharaj.

Brandon Moodley, from Pinetown Funeral Services, said: "The death of the little child and his grandfather has devastated the community. No family should go through the pain they are facing. Losing a child, a father and a home. We will be doing the funeral for free."

Narendkumar Birjalal, the senior divisional commander of eThekwini Fire, said the department dispatched vehicles from Phoenix and Umhlanga as well as a water carrier.

"On arrival, the house was well alight and our team got to work putting out the blaze. Our firemen were equipped with oxygen tanks because we were told that two people were inside the home."

Birjalal said when the fire was extinguished the bodies of Vinodhkumar and Ashton were found in the bedroom.

"Preliminary investigations showed that the fire started in the lounge and spread throughout the house. The occupants were unable to get out due to the high flames and because the gates were all locked. The cause of the fire is still under investigation."

Constable Thenjiswa Ngcobo, a provincial police spokesperson, said an inquest docket had been opened. She said the cause of the fire was unknown.

If you would like to assist the family call Reddy on 078 409 0038.

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