A Mamelodi woman who poured paraffin on her 13-year-old niece and set her alight because the girl refused to admit that she had stolen money has been convicted of her murder.
Judge Bert Bam convicted Anna Mahlangu, 62, on a charge of murdering her niece, Nelly Maswanganyi, at their home in Mamelodi in October 2014.
She had raised Nelly, along with another sister’s daughter. Mahlangu, who cried bitterly throughout her court appearance, said in a statement she had confronted her niece several days before the incident when money went missing from their house, but Nelly denied taking it.
She took the child to the police, hoping she would be scared and tell the truth, but Nelly still denied taking the money. The police referred them to a social worker.
According to Mahlangu, she had impulsively decided to scare the child by pouring paraffin over her and pretending that she wanted to burn her.
She said she was convinced that the child would not burn, because she was going to put out the fire by removing her clothing, but Nelly “slipped out of her hands” and started running away.
The flames became worse when the child ran and Mahlangu and other tenants poured water over her. But Mahlangu also caught fire.
She said she never really intended to burn Nelly, whom she loved. She had high hopes for the child to pass matric and to study at university like her other adopted daughter.
The trial was postponed to December for a probation officer’s report.