Monday, December 29, 2014

Murder Victim Attends His Own Funeral

A two-year murder investigation took a bizarre turn in an East London court when State witnesses testified that the victim was spotted alive – at his own funeral.

The murder trial following the reported killing of 22-year-old shebeen owner Siphamandla Hlatshwayo – who was allegedly stabbed to death at another tavern in Nompumelelo in 2008 – was postponed to next year for the claims to be investigated.

Murmurs and gasps were heard in the East London Regional Court last week when the first State witness testified that he had seen Hlatshwayo just a week after the alleged murder.

Accused Bongekile Nqwiliso, 22, was arrested in 2008 for allegedly stabbing Hlatshwayo and his friend Sonwabo Walter Mpisane – who survived the attack – during a heated argument at Aaron’s Tavern.

Hlatshwayo was reported to have died on the scene, while Mpisane sustained minor stab wounds.

Nqwiliso was released on warning and has pleaded not guilty to charges of murder and assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm.

Mpisane, called as the first State witness, said he was “shocked” when Hlatshwayo turned up at his own funeral in August 2008 – about a week after his death.

He said Hlatshwayo was wearing the same clothing as the night he had died.

After rushing to Hlatshwayo’s sister’s aid – who allegedly fainted when she saw her brother – Mpisane said he chased after Hlatshwayo, who fled the scene.

Taking the stand in the afternoon, tavern owner Aaron Simandla confirmed Mpisane’s version of events.

He said he also saw a man “who looked very much … exactly like Hlatshwayo.”

He said he also attempted to “catch” Hlatshwayo but that he “vanished”.

Chaos then erupted and community members wanted to burn the coffin with the body inside.

However, family members called off the funeral.

Instead, they had the body cremated about a week later, the court heard.

Yesterday a family friend of Hlatshwayo’s, who asked not to be named for fear of victimisation, said she had witnessed the commotion at the funeral, but denied the victim had turned up to see his own burial.

“There was screaming … someone fainted … people were running around yelling that they had seen Siphamandla, but I never saw him.

“I was very close to Siphamandla … If he was there why didn’t I see him? He would have appeared to me.”