Police are appealing to the public for information after a priest and his young family died in a fire

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The Mphithi family died in a mysterious hell that engulfed their mission home near Cala in the Eastern Cape.

  • Seplan Circuit Reverend Mandisi Mphithi, his wife Dunyiswa and their children were burned to death at their mission home near Cala in the Eastern Cape.
  • The SA Methodist Church has called on the public to keep the Reverend and his young family in their prayers.
  • The family’s housekeeper escaped unscathed.

Eastern Cape Police have appealed to the public for information on the cause of a fire which claimed the lives of Reverend Mandisi Mphithi of the Methodist Church, his wife and three children at their Seplan mission home near Cala .

Police have opened an investigation file after Mphithi, 46, his wife Dunyiswa, 29, and their three children, Khololwetu, 5, Zimi, 3, and Yololwetu, 11 months, died in the mysterious fire on Thursday at midnight.

The family’s live-in domestic worker suffered no injuries and was receiving psychosocial support at Cala Hospital, the provincial health department said.

Police said they would not speculate on the cause of the fire.

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“Detectives will use their discretion to determine whether or not there is reason to conduct an interview with the survivor. We do not wish to speculate at this stage,” police spokesman Brigadier Thembinkosi Kinana said. .

Kinana said officers arrived at the house, which was on fire, after being called by a resident.

“Firefighters who were also on the scene managed to put out the fire, but the family could not be saved as they had already died inside the house. Only one person, believed to be a domestic worker , 28, was rescued and rushed to a nearby hospital for medical treatment,” Kinana said.

“Physically, she never supported [burn wounds] but was kept mainly for psychosocial support reasons. [She] could leave [on Tuesday]but the concerned church and social development are finalizing an exit plan,” Eastern Cape Health Department spokesman Sizwe Kupelo said of the domestic worker’s condition.

Mphiti family posing in front of their house in an older photo

The Mphithi family before the birth of their third child.

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The Methodist Church in Southern Africa said it was devastated by the horrific and tragic death of Mphithi and his loved ones.

On its Facebook page, the church asked congregants, friends and colleagues of the Mphithi family to pray for them and for the domestic worker.

Eastern Cape Prime Minister Oscar Mabuyane said Mphithi was an exemplary man of cloth. Mabuyane added that with the support of his wife and family, Mphithi has played an important role in the lives of young and old in his community.

He said:

We are saddened by this tragic news and send our deepest condolences to Mphithi’s family and friends. It is a tragic loss, not only for the family, but also for the Methodist Church and the whole community of Cala, which has received the pastoral care and support of the Reverend. We also send our condolences to them.

The ANC Women’s League (ANCWL) Eastern Cape Task Force says the death of the Mphithi family is not just a loss to their families and the Methodist Church, but also to communities that they served.

“Reverend Mphithi and his wife were exemplary people of the fabric, who put service to the people and spreading the word of God above all else. We wish to appeal to the people of the Eastern Cape and the religious fraternity to support the family during this period,” ANCWL provincial coordinator Siphokazi Lusithi said in a statement.

“It is through our collective practical support that they will feel their grief is shared by many.”

The funeral is expected to take place later this week.


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