Burnt farmer 'felt what hell feels like'

2010-10-12 10:13

Bethlehem - A young farmer's last words to his brother, who found him waiting on the steps of the farmhouse after he was badly burnt in a veld fire, were that he never wanted to burn to death in hell because he already knew what it felt like.

Jaco Nortjé, who was caught by a veld fire outside Bloemfontein on his 21st birthday on Sunday, died early on Monday morning in Pelonomi hospital in Bloemfontein.

His mother, Alet Hartman, said she never thought she would see her son like this, or see him die in this way.

All she saw when she closed her eyes, was the black, burnt face of her youngest son.

"I told my children today that I think it was the Lord's way of talking to us. Of punishing us.

"These things can happen so quickly. He wanted to tell us to open our eyes and ears."

Left his birthday braai

Jaco's older brother, Eugene, went looking for him on Sunday afternoon after he had called him to help with the fire, but he couldn't get hold of him again on the cell phone.

He saw Jaco's Corsa, in which he had driven from his birthday braai in Bethlehem, standing in the veld. Eugene finally found him quite a bit further along at their mother's house.

"He was waiting at the kitchen for his brother. He wasn't talking much.

"The doctors said if he had survived, he would have had the most indescribable pain for 14 days.

"It is sad but it's better that he is gone. He wouldn't have been able to handle it.

"He was such a lively being."

Jaco's eldest brother, Jannie, who came from Kokstad on Monday, said what had happened hadn't really sunk in yet.

"It just doesn't feel real yet."