Man killed in mountain fire

Frank Maponya

Frank Maponya

A journey up a mountain by two elderly men at Moletjie in Limpopo to conduct an ancestral ritual ended tragically when one of them burnt to death.

The incident happened on Wednesday night at the Mogodumo mountains, near Lebowakgomo in Limpopo.

The men, aged between 60 and 70, had planned to spend a week on the mountains without food or water, depending on the holy spirit for their sustenance.

Police spokesman Captain Mamphaswa Seabi told Sowetan yesterday that the surviving man told them he and his friend had boarded a taxi in Polokwane on Wednesday afternoon to go to the mountains.

After alighting from the taxi they headed for the mountain topfor their ritual.

After conducting prayers, the two men decided to make a fire to keep warm as the temperatures had dropped.

In keeping with the ritual, the men made separate fires and continued with their ancestral practices before going to sleep.

"The surviving man told us he was awoken by his friend's screams and when he investigated he realised the man was on fire," said Seabi.

Seabi said the man said he had tried to save his friend but it was too late. He died shortly afterwards.

The surviving man descended the mountain in the early hours of the morning to report his friend's death to the police.

Seabi said the police were waiting for a helicopter to take them up the mountain to inspect the scene and retrieve the body as they could not ascend it on foot.