Local woman fatally burnt in argument with husband

2009-11-11 00:00

A DOMESTIC argument and a subsequent act of frustration has tragically led to the death of a local woman.

Police spokeswoman Inspector Joey Jeevan said officers were called to the home of 40-year-old Peggy Nel in Howick Road recently and arrived to find her husband, Adrian, administering first aid. Nel was conscious, but her arms, face and upper body were covered in burn marks.

“Apparently Peggy and her husband were arguing. She has three children, two of whom were living in the house at the time.”

Jeevan said that during the disagreement the daughter went to her bedroom while her mother and stepfather continued arguing.

“The stepfather then apparently wanted to burn a cushion, which he did on the veranda of the house. He used petrol from a can and once the cushion was lit, he accidentally kicked the can. A flame followed the petrol can, which hit Peggy, causing her to catch on fire,” said Jeevan.

Jeevan said that when police arrived, Nel refused to open a case. “The police opened an inquiry and only when Peggy’s condition had improved would they have taken a statement. She was treated and sedated by paramedics and taken to Edendale Hospital,” said Jeevan.

When Nel died, Jeevan said, a culpable homicide docket was opened.

“The document will be submitted to the senior public prosecutor for a decision on whether to charge the man,” said Jeevan.

A friend described Nel as a friendly, bubbly Afrikaans woman who started working at Sutherlands in Howick in January.

“She was originally from the Eastern Cape. She was married to her second husband. He worked in Pretoria as far as I know, but last month he was retrenched.

“She was taken to Edendale Hospital because she was no longer on medical aid,” said the friend, who preferred to remain unnamed.

The woman said that her heart broke when she visited Nel at Edendale Hospital.

“She was in a drug-induced coma and she looked like a mummy, covered in bandages.

“We were horrified to hear that she hadn’t wanted to press charges, but that’s what she was like, a forgiving person.”

The friend said that on the night in question, Peggy was preparing to leave her husband. “

As far as I know her bags were packed. She was walking down the veranda steps away from him [Adrian] when he kicked the can.”

Adrian Nel said his wife died of septicaemia.

He conceded that he and his wife were having an argument.

“We had been having problems with her son and daughter. She threatened to pack her bags and leave, and I said that I would burn her clothes if she tried to take them out of the house.

“In a demonstration of what I would do, I poured petrol on a leather cushion and lit it. But being leather, it didn’t burn very well, so I poured more petrol on it.”

He said that as he did this, the flame shot back into the can and burnt his knee and arm.

“My wife was standing about eight metres away at the time, near our car. Because I was being burnt I dropped the can and accidentally kicked it. It landed about two metres in front of Peggy, but the splash of petrol and flames landed on her shirt and the car.”

Adrian said she was badly burnt as she tried to pull her T-shirt over her head to get it off.

“I rushed to extinguish the fire. I phoned 10111 and 911 and they [emergency services] took more than 50 minutes to get to us,” he added.

“When everyone finally arrived I was holding Peggy in a sheet and giving her Coke to drink as she was thirsty.”


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