A Limpopo ANC councillor spent two nights in freezing weather hiding in the bush with her family after narrowly escaping death.
Her two houses and brand-new car were torched by angry community members who accused her of feeding mourners at a funeral with poisoned food in Goedplaas, a stone’s throw away from Modjadjiskloof near Tzaneen, on Monday.
Speaking to The Citizen yesterday, a shivering Motsatsi Masedi burst into tears as she related the incident.
“I am still shell-shocked and fear for my life and that of my family. I have also withdrawn all my children from school because all their clothes, food, furniture and money have been lost in the flames,” Masedi said.
Her predicament started on Friday after scores of people complained of upset stomachs after eating food at a night vigil.
“I called an ambulance and offered to use my car to transport those affected to pickup points for the ambulance.
“But at the time, some known riff-raff from the community were already whispering my name, accusing me of being responsible for their dilemma,” Masedi said.
Masedi, who was comforted by the mayor, said a day later the incensed community raised R30 per household to consult a local traditional healer about the exact cause of the problem.
“Upon their return, I was woken up by the smoke and a vicious fire that had already caught my car and two houses,” she said. “The raging flames had already escalated to the rooms, but we managed to escape death and hid in the bushes for the night.”
Greater Letaba municipality mayor Peter Matlou said they had offered Masedi and her family a temporary shelter until the dust settled in her village.
Matlou said they had since supplied food and clothing to the family, through the help of local good Samaritans.
Limpopo health spokesperson Nil Shikwambane said their investigations revealed the food wasn’t poisoned, but had either been left in the sun too long or gone rotten before being cooked.
Shikwambane said a total of 28 patients were consulted at the Kgapane Hospital, with 24 discharged later and only four admitted.
Limpopo police spokesperson Lieutenant-Colonel Moatshe Ngoepe said they had arrested 12 suspects in connection with the attack on Masedi.
The suspects appeared before the Bolobedu Magistrate’s Court on charges of public violence, arson and malicious damage to property.
“They were all denied bail and their cases postponed to May 23,” said Ngoepe.
The damage caused by the fire was estimated at more than R400 000, he said.