former municipal mayor in suicide bid

FORMER Bela Bela municipality mayor Younis Lorgat has shocked the community after allegedly attempting to take his own life.

The drama happened on Monday at the parking lot of a local community newspaper when Lorgat's car went up in smoke .

Lorgat, who served as mayor of the municipality between 2001 and 2006, is now the speaker of the Waterberg district municipality.

The editor of Limpopo Beat Johnny Masilela said they heard a huge explosion from a car that was parked in the paper's parking lot at about 10am (on Monday).

He said when they went out to investigate, they saw smoke coming from Lorgat's car.

He said some of the people in the vicinity grabbed fire extinguishers and tried to extinguish the fire to save the occupant of the car.

"While we were trying to extinguish the fire, our colleagues in the office called the emergency services personnel to come and assist," Masilela said.

On arrival, the paramedics removed Lorgat from the car, took him to an awaiting ambulance and drove off.

His wife, who had arrived shortly after the incident, left with the paramedics.

"We later learnt from Lorgat's wife and paramedics that he had been airlifted to Milpark Hospital in Johannesburg for further treatment," said Masilela.

Masilela would not be drawn into commenting on whether Lorgat had attempted to take his own life or not.

Bela Bela police spokesperson Captain Johnny Thiyo, however, said they were investigating a case of attempted suicide.

According to Thiyo, Lorgat had driven from his home straight to the newspaper's parking lot.

He then allegedly doused his car with petrol before setting it alight, said Thiyo.

"Though no suicide note was found and the motive for the action is still unclear, we are currently investigating an attempted suicide case," said Thiyo.

Municipal spokesperson Matome Sebelebele said the council was shocked to hear about the incident.

"We are all shocked and saddened by the news.

"We, however, wish Lorgat a speedy recovery," Sebelebele said.