MOURNERS were shocked on Saturday to witness a ritual they’d never seen before.

Michel Chauke (12), whose twin Michael died in a shack fire two weeks ago, was put under her brother’s coffin before his burial at Heathery Cemetery in Mamelodi, Tshwane.

Her family said this was done to free Michael’s spirit from Michel and to avoid bad luck.

“To be honest, I’ve never seen anything like this before."

“But because they were twins, anything was always going to be possible.”

Michael’s dad Jimmy (61) died along with him in the fire.

Jimmy’s brother Thomas Hlongwane (45) said it was culturally important to put Michel under her twin brother’s coffin.

Cultural expert Refiloe Khunou said it was an old custom.

“The problem with twins is that their spirit is one. When one dies the other one will want to hold onto the living twin’s body,” he said.

Thomas said the trauma of losing two family members was very painful.

“I witnessed my brother burning to death as the fire was too strong for us. He was a good man and didn’t deserve to die like that,” he said.

Paul’s Mission Church’s Pastor David Dlamini said Jimmy joined the church in May.

“He was a dedicated member and loved God”

Councillor Morwangwato Mantjane said plans were already in place to allocate Jimmy’s widow, Esther, a permanent stand.