N Touch
Wednesday 15 August 2018
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Daughter of woman burnt in fire says

GRIEVING: Jean Maharaj hugs her granddaughters Shanice, 4, at right and Shania who turns 13 today. The children’s mother died in a fire which ravaged their home on Tuesday. PHOTO BY ANIL RAMPERSAD.

ALTHOUGH everyone around her has been unable to sleep and eat properly since the fiery death of her mother, four-year-old Shanice Ramdath, when asked how she slept, responded: “My mummy hugged me up the whole night. She is in heaven.”

Those were among the first words Shanice said yesterday morning when she woke up in a jolly mood. The night before, her 31-year-old mother Anita Ramdath died in a fire which partially destroyed the family’s home at Princes Town. Shanice and her sister Shania, who turns 13 today, survived as their father Shane Ramdath, a policeman, threw them out a window to save them. He was unable to save his wife.

An autopsy yesterday at the Forensic Science Centre in St James concluded the woman died from smoke inhalation.

Ramdath and his daughters have been staying at the home of his mother and stepfather at George Village in Tableland since the tragedy.

On the brink of tears, his worried mother Jean Maharaj, 49, said distraught relatives are trying to cope and be strong for the children and husband.

“When Shanice woke up, she asked me, ‘Mama you slept good?’ Of course, I could not tell her that I did not sleep good. So, I ask if she slept good. She said, “My mommy was with me. Mummy hugged me up the whole night. She is in heaven,’” Maharaj said.

“Shane has not eaten or slept properly since the fire. I too do not have an appetite. I am not even feeling to drink water. My son tried his best to save his wife.”

Reports are, the fire started on the top floor of the family’s three-bedroom house at Immortelle Lane, Glenroy Settlement, at 12.10 am on Tuesday. Ramdath, who works in the Fraud Squad, fell asleep on a couch in the living room while watching television, while Anita slept in their bedroom. The girls were asleep in another bedroom. But the smell of smoke and the crackling sound of the flames awoke Ramdath.

Relatives said he ran to his daughters’ bedroom and threw Shania then Shanice out a window and onto a concrete platform. They slid on a piece of galvanise where neighbours shielded them from hitting the ground. Ramdath kept calling out to his wife and attempted to reach her in the master bedroom, but the fire spread rapidly. Facing the possibility of death, he jumped through the same window on realising his wife could not be reached.

Anita worked as a clerk at the Princes Town Magistrates’ Court.

“Neighbours said that they had to hold him down because he wanted to go in the burning house to get her out. He really tried, and Anita was like a daughter to me,” Maharaj said.

The death was the second tragedy Ramdath has been faced with. When he was only three-and-a-half-years old, his father Andy, 22, was shot and killed while hunting in a forested area. It was believed to be an accidental death.

“He told me that he grew up without his father and now his children are growing up without their mother. My children have a good relationship with their stepfather.”

Cpl Richardson of the Princes Town Police Station is spearheading the investigation.