Paramedics with a man who was set alight in Verulam on Thursday
Durban - A man who was set on fire on Thursday for allegedly stealing a grass-cutting machine, died in hospital on Friday morning.

This was confirmed yesterday by Prem Balram of private security firm Reaction Unit SA, who attended to the critically injured man the previous day.

Balram said he and other staff were called to the scene in Verulam on Thursday, after a 32-year-old man, accused of stealing the machine, was doused with petrol and set on fire by a group of people.

He and colleagues helped the man, who collapsed on a driveway.

The man suffered burns to more than 90% of his body, and photographs taken of him were shared widely on social media.

Balram said on arrival at the scene, the injured man said he had “been led to a bushy area where they assaulted him with hammers and stabbed him before he was doused with petrol and set alight”.

“The men drove off in a white Toyota Hilux bakkie and left him for dead in the bush, but he managed to walk to a nearby home and collapsed in the driveway.

“He was taken to hospital in a critical condition, where he died this (yesterday) morning,” Balram said.

He said, according to the dying man, people tried to save him before he was doused with petrol and set on fire.

“The man informed our officers that he had stolen the grass cutting machine, and had been previously arrested.

“But he did not deserve to be burnt alive,” he said, adding that the supervisor of a grass cutting company was arrested yesterday, and several employees of the company were being questioned.

Yesterday, police spokesperson Colonel Thembeka Mbele said a case of murder was being investigated by Verulam police.

“A 31-year-old suspect was arrested (yesterday). He is expected to appear in the Verulam Magistrate’s Court next week,” said Mbele.

The Independent on Saturday