A RHODES University student who was badly burnt when his bedroom caught fire a week ago died in a Port Elizabeth hospital.
Alvin Ziyambi, a third-year Bachelor of Commerce student from Zimbabwe, was pulled from his burning flat at The Greens in Grahamstown by neighbours and security guards who used a geology pick to smash their way through a locked security gate.
According to rescuers, Ziyambi could not open the locked security gate and attempts to squeeze through burglar bars in the bathroom also failed. Neighbours tried to douse the flames from outside the flat while the student screamed for help.
Ziyambi was taken to St George’s Hospital in Port Elizabeth after sustaining third-degree burns. Neighbours reported hearing a huge bang from the flat and one of them smashed a window and tried to help the trapped student, whose clothing was on fire.
Although speculation was rife that the fire was caused either by a smouldering cigarette or an illegal electricity connection, police and fire officials yesterday declined to comment until they had completed their investigations.
A burning mattress was found in the lounge. Police spokeswoman Captain Mali Govender said yesterday Ziyambi had struggled in vain to get out of the locked flat. “It is so tragic,” she said.
Grahamstown fire chief William Welkom declined to comment yesterday until the investigation had been completed.
Rhodes University dean of students Dr Vivian de Klerk said Ziyambi, who was from Chinhoyi in Zimbabwe, had been staying off campus in a privately run student housing complex at the time.
Source: The Herald (SA)