The community of Mapuve, outside Giyani in Limpopo, is living in fear after mysterious fires burnt 14 houses in the past few days.

The fires destroyed properties and left many villagers homeless. The mystery fires started last week. When they initially started, the villagers did not take them seriously. But when more houses were burnt down, they began suspecting that someone was responsible.

It is not yet known who or what caused the fires. At least 14 thatched-roof houses have burnt down so far. All attempts by villagers to extinguish the fires had allegedly failed.

Now the community wants a solution to "this frightening problem".

"Community structures, including police, met in the village yesterday to try and establish the cause of the fires, but the meeting yielded nothing," said community spokesman Steven Maswanganyi.

He said that shortly after the meeting another house burnt down.

"Each time a house catches fire, we rush to assist but because we do not have the equipment nor the training, we are unable to rescue anything from the houses," he said.

Nelly Chavalala, another villager who also lost two huts on different days, said: "We always hear loud explosions and when we look at the top of the roof we see a blaze and the fire never gives us time to collect our belongings."

A fire station manager in Giyani, Risenga Mashimbye, yesterday confirmed receiving calls from the community on a daily basis since last week about the mystery fires.

Police confirmed that they were investigating cases of arson.