A married couple from Tshwane, South Africa has been arrested after the husband reported to have died in a house fire last year, was caught driving a stolen car.
Sibusiso Mahlangu and his wife Lerato from Soshanguve have been charged with murder, defeating the ends of justice and fraud, as police launch investigation to establish who was buried in Mahlangu’s place, News 24 reported on Wednesday, April 26, 2023.
Authorities have not yet confirmed whose body was buried in Mahlangu’s place. Efforts to exhume the body are under way with police making the necessary applications.
However, the body is reported to be Lerato’s missing ex-boyfriend, 32-year-old Sibusiso Sithebe, who is the father of her daughter.
Apparently, the charred body was found wearing a ring that belongs to Mahlangu.
The case bears similarities to that of convicted rapist and murderer, Thabo Bester, who was said to have burnt to death in his cell at Mangaung Correctional Centre in May last year.
However, Bester was found to have escaped, and the charred body in his cell was that of Free State resident, Katlego Bereng.
Bester was arrested with his girlfriend, Dr Nandipha Magudumana, on 7 April in Tanzania.
According to Sithebe’s sister, Linah, Sithebe was reported missing on 1 January 2022 after he and his new girlfriend had celebrated their child’s birthday party.
Linah said the girlfriend notified the family after Sithebe did not return from a job in Hammanskraal.
The family opened a missing person’s case.
She said they enlisted the help of a relative who worked for a cellphone provider to trace her brother’s phone.
“He managed to track Sibusiso’s call log and find out who called him last.”
Linah said she called that number, and Lerato answered.
“I told her Sibusiso had not been home in two days, and we were worried and asked if she had seen or heard of him, but she said no.
“Lerato said she and Sibusiso had last spoken at the end of October or the beginning of November,” said Linah.
She said Lerato then told her that the news of Sithebe’s disappearance “was stressing her” because she had also just lost her husband.
“She said she was sitting on the mattress grieving her husband, who had died in a fire in their RDP house on 1 January 2022. I started feeling pity for her and was thinking, ‘You just lost your husband, and the father of your child is missing,” said Linah.
“I was sad, confused, worried. When I got into the taxi daily, I’d ask people about my brother, show them pictures, and hope that one would say they had seen him, but nothing.”
Last week, more than a year since Sithebe’s disappearance, police called the family with an update.
Linah went to the police station, where the investigating officer told her: “I think I know where your brother is.”
“He pulled a file with Sibusiso’s pictures. The first page was a burnt house, and the second page was a picture of my brother, who was burnt from the waist up,”
“I was taken aback and started crying … I couldn’t believe it. That was my brother’s body. I could not believe someone had done that to him,” said Linah, crying.
News24 understands that Mahlangu was arrested when he was found driving a VW Polo that had been reported stolen in Hammanskraal.
A source who spoke on condition of anonymity said Mahlangu did not want police to take his fingerprints.
“Police asked why, and he said he was a dead man and that the system would detect that,” said the source.