A Letlhabile schoolgirl was alive and “not upright” when she was set alight after being doused with petrol, a police fire expert has told the High Court in Pretoria.
The commander of the police’s fire investigation section, Lieutenant-Colonel Marthinus Bekker, testified in the trial of Cynthia Mosupi, 24, and her friend, Sharon Thwala, 24, who denied being guilty of kidnapping and murdering Mosupi’s love rival, Boitumelo Dlamini, in June 2015.
The matric pupil was allegedly kidnapped outside her school and taken to a piece of open veld where she was doused in petrol and set alight.
She suffered 70% burns to her body and died an excruciating death in the veld.
Mosupi claimed in her plea explanation she only wanted to “frighten” Dlamini, who was having an affair with her boyfriend, by pouring petrol over her so that she would leave her boyfriend alone.
According to Mosupi, she was holding Dlamini when Thwala poured petrol on her, but she did not intend to burn Dlamini and believed the schoolgirl was accidentally set alight when someone lit a cigarette.
She was also injured in the fire. Bekker testified that Mosupi’s injuries were confined to the back of her legs. If she had been holding Dlamini and was not the one pouring the petrol, it was more likely that the petrol would have landed on her arms or upper body.
He said the upper part of Dlamini’s body had been soaked in petrol, she was not standing when she was set alight and was instantly engulfed in a ball of fire when the fire was ignited by a flame that was in her direct vicinity.
Mosupi was close to Dlamini when the fire started and some of the petrol had spilt on to her, or she was touching Dlamini when she sustained the burns.
The incident took place in the open air and it was not possible that someone lighting a cigarette or even throwing a burning match from a distance would have caused the petrol vapours to ignite, said Bekker.
It could also not be accidental if you cast a match in the direction of someone soaked in petrol, he added.
The trial continues.