The old man wearing just a piece of cloth found in the yard of a policeman last week is mentally sick, Mpumalanga police say.
The man was saved by police after being threatened by a mob accusing him of being a wizard.
Members of the Chavela Gaza community near Acornhoek got the shock of their lives when the semi-naked man was found in the yard of a policeman early last Wednesday morning.
The incident happened at the home of Inspector Edwel Mkhonto, who is based in Hoedspruit.
Mkhonto was returning home after collecting his wife from work when he saw the old man wearing only a kanga that covered his lower body. The man was standing against the fence that divides Mkhonto's home and that of state prosecutor Moses Sibanda.
Mkhonto turned his car headlights on so that he could see the man's face properly. Believing that the old man might be a "witch", Mkhonto proceeded into his house from where he called his neighbours, including Sibanda.
Sibanda said: "The fact that he was semi naked in a policeman's yard at night shocked us.
"What shocked us even further was that he did not seem to mind the cold winter morning."
As other members of the community gathered to have a look at the man, some were overheard shouting that he should be burnt "because he was a witch".
A member of the community who felt pity for the old man called the Acornhoek police before anything could happen.
Inspector Joseph Mogakane confirmed the incident and told Sowetan that he personally drove to the scene.
"We have established that the man was a mental patient at Tintswalo Hospital," he said.
"We appeal to members of the community to understand that the man is just a victim of circumstances and not a wizard as some believed."