THE CROWD WATCHES AS THE BOYS SCREAM IN AGONY, TRYING TO ESCAPE THE FLAMES THAT ENGULF THEM.

“We saw our brother being set alight,” said Ncebakazi Tiya (19) who, along with her twin sister watched in disbelief as her brother, Gugulethu Tiya (17) was set alight.

“He screamed for help, calling our names. But there was nothing we could do because the angry crowd threatened to beat us if we went to our burning brother.”

The SunTeam spoke to Ncebakazi and her family at their home near a dumpsite in Sondela squatter camp, Rustenburg, North West on 7 March.

Gugulethu and his four friends were accused of killing a 30-year-old man after they had a fight at a tavern. The five boys aged between 15 and 19 allegedly beat the man, who was known to them, with stones and fists.

Ncebakazi said they pleaded with the crowd to hand the boys over to cops but they refused.

“I will never forget this. It was cruel and barbaric. At first they beat the boys and hit them with stones,” she said.

“Then one of them shouted that the boys didn’t deserve to live and they must be set alight. He ordered some of the men to bring petrol.”

She said the men returned with a plastic container and poured petrol over them.

“I thought I was dreaming. I saw flames coming out of them and I heard Gugulethu and his friends screaming,” she said.

“Their pleas fell on deaf ears. The crowd continued to throw stones at them.”

Ncebakazi said she had a video of the incident but decided to delete it from her phone.

“I watched the video for days. Even in my dreams I was haunted by the image of my brother screaming in pain,” she said.

Ncebakazi’s twin sister, Noncebo, said Gugulethu and his friend were still alive when they were taken away by cops.

“I visited him in hospital the same day. He was burnt and he had serious head injuries,” she said.

“He told me things would be okay but the following day he couldn’t speak and later that evening we received a call from the hospital to say he had died.”

She said Gugulethu was buried last week in the Eastern Cape.

Babalwa Vimba (30), Gugulethu’s elder sister, said they fear for their lives because angry residents may attack them.

North West police spokesman, Colonel Sabata Mokgwabone confirmed that the police rescued the boys, who were taken to Job Shimankana Tabane Hospital.

He said a 19-year-old suspect charged with the alleged murder of the 30-year-old man in the tavern appeared briefly in the Rustenburg Magistrates Court. The case was postponed to 9 April and he was not asked to plead. He is still in custody.

He said a 31-year-old man who was arrested in connection with the murder and attempted murder of the five boys will be in court on 1 April for a bail application

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