GEORGE NEWS - Winter claimed its first victims in George this past weekend. A 27-year-old man and a one-year-old boy, believed to be his son, have died, reportedly after they inhaled toxic fumes originating from a brazier in their dwelling.
The two deceased and the mother, who was still alive, were found in their home in Zone 8, Thembalethu, on Sunday morning, 14 June.
According to Thembalethu communications officer Captain Dumile Gwavu the three sat next to a brazier outside their house on Saturday and later took the brazier into the house where they went to sleep. "An inquest docket has been opened. At this stage we believe the family inhaled the toxic fumes of the brazier which killed the man and the little boy," said Gwavu. The family was discovered by a relative who went to visit them on Sunday morning. "The boy and the man were found dead and the woman was still alive. She was rushed to the hospital."
The police warns the public about the dangers of imbawula. An imbawula or brazier is a make-shift coal stove made out of a large tin with holes in the sides and is designed to burn for a long time. This method of heating and cooking is commonly used during the cold days of winter. Though it fights off the cold, it poses a health hazard as it releases toxic carbon monoxide fumes when burning.
Inhalation of toxic fumes originating from braziers, called 'imbawula', has caused a number of deaths in Thembalethu and across the country.
A few years ago, the bodies of a mother and her 15-year-old son were found in a shipping container in Thembalethu that had been converted into temporary accommodation. It was suspected that they died of smoke inhalation as a smouldering imbawula was found inside the container. The windows and the door of the container were closed.
"We would like to warn people to be extra cautious of putting imbawula inside their houses while all the doors and windows are closed. In fact, at all cost people should avoid sleeping while imbawula is burning in their house," said Gwavu. He said the only place to use imbawula safely is outside their houses.
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