Johannesburg - The Reverend Gift Moerane ventured down the dry, brown pathway.
The South African Council of Churches’ Gauteng secretary was going to hold a prayer service at the place where the bodies of schoolgirls Thandeka Moganetsi, 14, and Chwayita Rathazayo, 15, were found in a ditch after an apparent satanic ritual killing.
But as he trampled through the dry shrubbery, he stepped on something foreign. When he looked down, he saw a snake, which had raised its black head towards him, hissing.
“I’m still recovering. I’ve never experienced something like this.
“We always preach about faith and hear all these stories, but the type of the snake I saw there – I’ve never seen one like it in my life.
“It frightened me and could have killed me. It was a huge. It reacted like a cobra.
“I’m still trying to figure out why this happened. Maybe other people can tell me,” said Moerane, who never did get round to praying for the dead girls after that.
Dressed in their school uniforms, they were found a metre from each other with multiple cuts to their bodies. Their satchels lay next to them. Three black candles and two razor blades were also found at the site.
Earlier in the day, the religious leader accompanied Gauteng Education MEC Barbara Creecy to the Moganetsi home.
Moerane said families had to be mindful of the activities in which their children were involved.
He slammed individuals and groups who killed in the name of Satan.
“There is this campaigning and movement of people who claim they are Satanists, which I don’t support.
“We don’t have a religion in this country called Satanism. It’s the behaviour of people who support the wrong spirits and think that this country is a banana republic,” he said.
Moerane said he had no doubt his encounter with the reptile was a sign of the bad spirits hovering in the area.
Meanwhile, Moganetsi’s grandmother, Elizabeth Potsanyane, 77, lamented the death of her granddaughter.
She said it was perhaps punishment from God – her daughter, Thandeka’s mother, committed suicide five years ago.
Creecy told the family the department would give them support and counselling.
She pleaded with community leaders not to take the law into their own hands.
The two teenagers accused of the murder of the schoolgirls appeared in the Protea Magistrate’s Court on Friday morning still dressed in their uniforms.
They had cuts on their hands and necks.
The matter was postponed until Monday for an assessment.
The police said they would stay in a place of safety until their next appearance.
Meanwhile, at George Khoza Secondary School, where the two girls and their alleged killers were pupils, classes resumed.
One parent, Shadi Mofofi, stood outside the school gates for most of the day determined to see to it that her daughter was safe.
“We’re all scared after what happened,” she said.
Grade 9 pupil Palesa Kwinana said she and her friends were terrified.
“Some kids are no longer coming to school because of this.
“My mother has instructed me to wait for school transport outside the gate and not wander around,” she said. – Additional reporting Sapa