By Everson Luhanga

This article was first published in May 2023.

On New Year’s Day in 2022, a body was found in the wreckage of a housefire in Tshwane. 

The home belonged to Sibusiso and Lerato Mahlangu, and the body discovered was wearing Sibusiso’s wedding ring.

It looked like a cut-and-dried case: Mahlangu perished in the fire. His funeral was held eight days later.

But Mahlangu was not in the coffin. He was walking among his loved ones who had arrived to mourn his death. The man in the coffin was Sibusiso Sithebe.

Sibusiso Mahlangu and his wife, Lerato Mahlangu, appeared in Soshanguve Magistrate’s Court on Thursday accused of Sithebe’s murder.

Sithebe’s cousin, Dimakatso Masango, said that when the body was first discovered, only the head was burnt. And it was burnt beyond recognition.

It’s alleged that after Mahlangu killed Sithebe, he removed his wedding ring and placed it on the victim’s finger.

Sithebe’s aunt, Tinny Khumalo, said the family was shocked to know that the Mahlangu family had a full funeral with the body of her sister’s son.

“We want to know where Sibusiso was buried so that we can get his body and give him a proper funeral as per the Sithebe culture,” she said.

Khumalo said the family also wants a funeral policy company to take responsibility for authorising a payout of millions of rands for a policy taken upon the death of their own family member.

Khumalo said that Lerato’s job working in a funeral policy company allowed her to claim the insurance policy.

“She had all the information about how to put someone on a policy and how to claim. And she did it on my nephew’s body.”

Speaking to Scrolla.Africa outside the Soshanguve Magistrate’s Court Lerato Mphefo, the current girlfriend of the late Sibusiso Sithebe, told Scrolla.Africa that all she wanted was to bury her beloved.

“I know they killed him to get the money. But why couldn’t they just give me the body so that I could bury him?” she asked.

“How will I tell his children that this is how their father died?”

Sibusiso Sithebe was the third born in a family of five. He was born into a Christian family and loved gospel music. 

National Prosecution Authority regional spokesperson Lumka Mahanjana said it is alleged that Lerato Mahlangu, obtained a fraudulent death certificate from the Department of Home Affairs.

The pair will be back in the dock on 18 May for bail application.

Read part one, HOW TO FAKE YOUR OWN DEATH, here.

Pictured above: Sibusiso Mahlangu and his wife, Lerato Mahlangu, appeared in Soshanguve Magistrate’s Court on accused of Sibusiso Sithebe’s murder.

Image source: National Prosecution Authority

Second photo: Lerato Mphefo (wearing a black doek) being comforted by Francinah Thosago outside the Soshanguve Magistrate’s Court on Thursday.

Image source: Everson Luhanga 


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