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March 20, 2015 -- Bystanders did nothing as a copper thief burst into flames.

The burning man caught fire while attempting to steal copper from an electricity substation in South Africa.

Copper thieves are responsible for service disruptions and higher utility cost.

Onlookers refused to call ambulance service, telling the thief to walk to hospital.

The thief later died from his wounds.

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Shocking video footage has emerged showing the moment passers-by refused to help a fatally injured young man who burst into flames while trying to steal copper wire from an electricity substation.

The unidentified South African, who appears to be in his teens, was seen with horrific burns covering most of his upper body following the incident in the outskirts of the city of Witbank in north-western Mpumalanga Province.

With his terrible injuries clearly visible, the young man says he is in agony and begs passers-by to take him to the hospital - but he is cruelly told to walk if he wants treatment.

The burns victim then walked to a nearby health clinic, where an ambulance was called - but he is understood to have died hours later.

The explosive blast was also seen by locals at the same time as the electricity cut out throughout the Witbank suburbs.

As they rushed over to see what had happened they saw the man smoking and shouting for help as he climbed out of the Botha substation in the city's Lynnvill suburb.

According to the local council's acting municipal manager Theo van Vuuren, the thief had probably been attempting to repeat the success of an earlier theft at the same substation.

During that incident electrical wiring was stolen leaving the areas of Lynnville and Ackerville without electricity.

'Today a thief attempted to steal and vandalise Botha substation, only weeks ago this same substation was hit leaving Lynnville and Ackerville without electricity,' van Vuuren said.

'The team has managed to restore power to Lynnville and part of Ackerville. After restoring power a cable fault emerged and this is affecting part of Ackerville as well as Thushanang.'

He did not comment on the video footage of the young thief that appeared a short while later showing people refusing to assist the man as he screamed in pain and shouted for help.

One eyewitness, who asked not to be named, said: 'The man came out of nowhere and was screaming, obviously in a lot of pain. His whole body was burned, the skin was left hanging off his body and some of his hair also burnt off.'

Several community members came out to see why he was shouting but no one wanted to help the poor man. They were all staring at him,' he added.

Video of the incident captures locals shouting: 'What were you doing? You brought this on yourself, what were you doing in the substation?'

'I am burning, I am dying and it is so painful, please get an ambulance,' the horrifically injured thief shouted back.

According to the source, the man walked 500 metres to the clinic where the nursing staff called an ambulance. He was taken to a nearby hospital but is understood to have died the next day.

The local police spokesperson colonel Leonard Hlathi said that they had not had any reports about the theft and the dead man's identity remains unknown.

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  1. Smmmmokin..somebody stop me ! Ha ha, made my day !

  2. Instead of merely not helping the PoS, they should have laughed and given him a standing ovation.

  3. Looks like most American cities, circa 2015.