A senior military judge who doused herself with petrol and then set herself alight has told medical staff she believed "witchcraft" was behind her actions.

Colonel Yvonne Nomoyi, the military's first black senior judge, is understood to have expressed bewilderment at why she had set herself alight in the garage of her home on June 26, saying she had no idea what had prompted her behaviour. Neither did she know who would want to bewitch her into committing the suicidal act.

Denying that she was depressed or suffering from any work- or family-related stress, she revealed that she had taken a sleeping tablet in the hours before she walked into her garage for some "quiet time" and spotted the matches and petrol that she had used to burn herself.

The 41-year-old mother-of-two is receiving treatment for the second-degree burns she suffered on her face and arms, but has declined the services of a psychiatrist or social worker. While she is a devout Zionist Christian Church member, it is not known whether she has asked for visits from her priest.

The Star has, however, established that the judge - who presided over the murder and rape trial of former SA Air Force sergeant Flippie Venter - is still under so-called suicide watch.

While military personnel who attempt suicide normally face charges of "conduct unbecoming", the South African National Defence Force has declined to confirm or deny whether this will be Nomoyi's fate.

In response to questions from The Star on Friday, spokesperson Colonel Petrus Mothlabance stated: "The department of defence confirms that the person in question is still in hospital, in a stable condition as stated previously.

"The department has no information regarding the reported incident."

The Star has, however, established that members of the military's legal services have visited Nomoyi in hospital. It will be up to acting director of military prosecutions Colonel Ruben Mbangatha to decide whether the judge will face any charges.

Should she be convicted of "conduct unbecoming", she faces the humiliation of cashiering, a ritual where disgraced military staff are dishonourably discharged from service.

The popular and well-liked judge began her career in the military legal services in 1995. She was appointed as a judge in 2000 and sworn in as senior military judge by Deputy Judge President Phineas Mojapelo on September 1 2004

The judge's colleagues have expressed shock and disbelief at allegations that she tried to commit suicide.

"She loves her children profoundly," one colleague said, "and she would never do anything to hurt them."

A Gauteng police spokesperson on Sunday confirmed that the police were not investigating the circumstances under which Nomoyi was injured and did not suspect any foul play.