THE former mayor of the Bela-Bela municipality in Limpopo, Younis Lorgat, has died of serious burn wounds after an alleged attempt to take his own life.
Lorgat, 47, died while being admitted to the intensive care unit of the Milpark Hospital in Johannesburg. He had been airlifted from Bela-Bela, where the incident had occurred earlier.
It is not yet known what could have caused Lorgat to allegedly take his own life.
At the time of his death, Lorgat was speaker of the Waterberg district municipality.
He allegedly left home on Monday morning and parked his car at the parking lot of the offices of Limpopo Beat, a community newspaper in Bela-Bela, before allegedly dousing his vehicle with petrol and setting it alight.
The newspaper's employees told Sowetan they heard a loud bang from the parking lot and were shocked to find it was Lorgat's vehicle.
Lorgat was buried yesterday in his home town of Bela-Bela, according to his Indian culture.
Spokesperson for the police in Bela-Bela, Captain Johnny Thiyo, said Lorgat died of third-degree burns to his body.
He said his brain was also affected by the fire.
"As the police we have since changed our investigations from attempted suicide to inquest after Lorgat's death," Thiyo said yesterday.
Lorgat served as mayor between 2001 and 2006.
He leaves behind his wife and three children.
Current mayor Henrietta Ledwaba yesterday conveyed her "heartfelt" condolences to Lorgat's family.
"I wish to, on behalf of the council of the Bela-Bela municipality and its residents, convey my sincere condolences to the bereaved family of Lorgat and pray that God gives them strength during these trying times," Ledwaba said.
She said Lorgat had served the municipality with commitment and "successfully" advanced the interests of both the community and municipality.
"I have personally learnt a lot from his commitment and meticulous approach to work as a leader and a comrade," she said.
Attempts to get comment from Lorgat's family were unsuccessful since they were said to be "deeply" affected by the death.
Meanwhile, the executive mayor of the Waterberg district municipality, Eric Gwangwa, said they would miss Lorgat's "inspiration of dedicating his life to work for the people of the district".