Woman burns herself to death

Elisha Molefe

A 21-year-old woman from Itsoseng near Lichtenburg in the North West has succumbed to third-degree burns after she torched herself last week.

Leah Tembo, of Zone 1 Itsoseng, allegedly drank paraffin and poured some of it over herself, her furniture and her three-year-old child before igniting it, said her live-in boyfriend, Nkuleleko Silo, 28.

Tembo was rushed to Thusong Hospital with severe burn wounds after her boyfriend managed to extinguish the flames by putting her under a tap.

Because of the severity of her burns, Tembo was transferred to Tshepong Hospital at Klerksdorp, were she died on Sunday.

Shortly after the incident, Silo who works at the Itsoseng Fire Brigade said that everything had been normal at home before the incident. He said Tembo had been concerned about the delay at Home Affairs in processing the child-support grant for her child.

In his statement to the police, Silo said that he had been out and on his return saw Tembo setting herself alight with matches.

Witnesses said Tembo turned herself into a ball of fire but her paraffin soaked daughter was saved from the inferno by neighbours and escaped unhurt.

"Her boyfriend earns a good salary and he did provide for them," said a neighbour. "To burn herself is beyond me."

Tembo's uncle, Mickey Tembo, said he had funeral insurance for the family, but he was not sure if the policy covered suicides.

North West's Department of Social Development has promised to issue a statement about the delay in processing Tembo's child-grant application.