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With her dying breath a severely burnt mother praised her 18-year-old son, Tshepo Mogadile, for trying to extinguish the flames on her body before he too caught alight. Tshepo died two days later.

This was the testimony of Sergeant Conrad Motlhatswi, who took the witness stand in the Northern Cape High Court on Tuesday during the trial of 45-year-old Daniel Dipheko, who is accused of the murders of his wife and son, after he allegedly set his spouse alight on December 13, 2018.

Dipheko is facing two counts of murder, three counts of attempted murder and one count of arson after he allegedly poured petrol on his wife, Abigail Mogadile, inside their home in Promised Land last year following an argument during which he accused her of cheating on him.

Abigail died in the Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe Hospital as a result of her burns, while her son, Tshepo, died two days after the incident.

The couple’s three other minor children sustained burn injuries but survived the incident.

Motlhatswi told the court that Abigail was able to relate to him the sequence of events that had transpired before she died.

The State brought an application to admit the hearsay evidence to allow Motlhatswi to give testimony on what he had been told by Abigail. According to Motlhatswi, Abigail hailed her son as a hero, who tried to see everyone to safety and was the last person to exit the burning house.

“The deceased was in extreme pain but was able to tell me what had unfolded. She told me that Tshepo had tried to extinguish the flames on her and, in so doing, he himself caught alight. She said he (Tshepo) had bravely tried to save his mother and had tried to extinguish the fire by running to the toilet to get water to put out the flames. She also said Tshepo had also saved his sister by putting her through the window,” said Motlhatswi.

Motlhastwi stated that Abigail had pointed to her husband as the person who had started the fire.

“The deceased said her husband was a very jealous person and he intentionally poured petrol on her and thereafter set her alight. She also said that he had locked the doors and pushed the sofas in front of the door to stop anyone from getting out of the house. The accused also poured petrol around the house and climbed out of the window with their youngest child after he had set her alight, leaving the rest of the family in the blazing house.”

During cross-examination, Motlhatswi admitted that although the children were inside the house with their mother, it was only the mother who was doused with petrol by the accused.

“The children were not doused with petrol ... only the mother was. The deceased said the accused had poured petrol on her and on the surroundings. He then set her alight with a lighter. The children were caught in the fire as they were also inside the house.”

Dipheko’s legal representative argued that since the accused took his youngest child out of the burning house, he could not be charged with attempting to murder the child as he had saved him.

The State alleges that Dipheko planned the murders and acted with premeditation in the execution thereof.

The case continues.