Although the mystery fires that haunted a Mosu family have been dormant for almost two years now, the aftermath from the unexplained blazes has left the family’s lives in ashes.
As well as destroying their homes and property, it seems the fire has also reduced 70-year-old Bathantsi Moitlhobogi’s relationship with her husband, Baretogetse Gaisang, 65, to dust.
The spooky infernos began their hot torment back in January 2019, torching four of the couple’s huts at nearby Nokayabakalaka cattlepost.
They then fled to Mosu, 15km away, only for the flames to follow them, burning down three more huts the very next day.
Scared to enter the yard, the pair, along with two of their children, were given two tents as accommodation by social workers, which they pitched outside their front gate. They both caught fire and burnt to cinders.
The couple then sought refuge with their children in Mmakgama. A month after they moved in, the fires struck again in January 2021, gutting the hut they were staying in.
When The Voice went to check on them last week Thursday, we arrive to find the yard abandoned, the burnt houses still a charred ruin.
Neighbours directed us to a nearby dwelling, where Moitlhobogi stays with her son.
We found her seated under a tree, washing dishes with her granddaughter.
It was almost three years since we’d last met up with the old woman.
Time had not been kind. Stress had added several wrinkles to her weather-beaten forehead and her skin was loose, giving the impression of someone who had lost a lot of weight in a short space of time.
“My life is a mess; I do not have a place of my own. Those fires destroyed my life. The father of my four children, Gaisang, left me for another woman and is now living in Mmakgama,” she revealed, furiously rubbing her moist eyes to stop the tears from falling.
Begging for help, Moitlhobogi said she did not know where to turn anymore, having previously approached prophets to lift the ‘curse’ on her family.
“At least ask the government to assist me with a plot and food. It is very tough. I do not know what to do anymore, my body is in pains and sometimes I feel like I am burning.”
Talk among the villagers suggests the fires are Gaisang’s punishment for stock theft after he and his children stole cows from a powerful traditional healer in the area.
Moitlhobogi was adamant this is not true.
“No, the fires were sent to the people we were working for, whose livestock we were looking after. I don’t know why they follow us,” she concluded bitterly.
Although Gaisang was not around, after several failed attempts, The Voice eventually managed to contact him over the phone.
He told us he was not well, and had been suffering from ill health ever since the fires started.
He was also fearful that they would return.
“They normally start when the rains are about to come. Even in April, I had cut some grass to use as thatch and it caught fire,” Gaisang said, adding as far as he was aware, he was still in a relationship with Moitlhobogi.
Meanwhile, Mosu Chief, Philip Kopano, confirmed the family were provided with food and tents when the fires first broke out.
“For them to be assisted, they have to come to our offices, meet with the rightful people and map the way forward,” explained the kgosi.