Two men accused of kidnapping, allegedly committed suicide rather than face justice about what happened to 20-year-old Asanda Stemela who went missing in December.
Lungisile Sokhatsha, 35, and Sakhubuzwe Mndi, 34, left their co-accused, Sibusiso Ngesi, 27, to stand in the dock alone in the Lady Frere magistrate’s court two weeks back after they were declared deceased on the morning of their appearance.
The three men from Vaalbank were arrested for the kidnapping of Stemela, also from Vaalbank, whom they allegedly assaulted and abducted over a stolen phone.
Reliable sources close to the case state that Sokhatsha, a sangoma, died last Friday after spending a week in Frontier Hospital. He had allegedly drunk poison. Mndi was found dead the same morning, having allegedly hanged himself.
The two suspects, who were out on bail, seemed to have been driven to their early deaths after Ngesi, arrested earlier this month, implicated them in his police statement. This was also asserted by The Rep sources.
Details of a stabbing, murder and forest burial done under cover of darkness, shroud the death of Stemela, whose body is yet to be recovered. A search is currently underway in a Vaalbank forest carried out by specialised police unit, Violent Crime Task Team.
Stemela’s mother, Lungelwa Mqokozo, said she was heartbroken because she could not even bury her son.
“The families of the accused will bury them, but I do not even have my son’s remains. I am very hurt,” said Mqokozo.
In December Sokhatsha allegedly went to Stemela’s home to search for him. When he was told by Mqokozo her son was gone, Sokhatsha vowed to “teach him a lesson” and told the weeping mother to “be strong”.
“I pleaded to Sokhatsha to stop searching for my son because he would return home to get his phone. I said I would confront him and if the phone was not recovered, I would pay for it myself. Before he left he told me he would teach him a lesson,” said Mqokozo.
According to her, they found her son at his friend’s house where they stabbed him. When he fled to his father’s home they pursued him, roped and proceeded to beat him with a sjambok.
“His friend says they took him and to this day we are yet to find where he is,” added Mqokozo.
According to police spokesperson Namhla Mdleleni, Stemela’s body has not been found and an inquest docket has been opened for Sokhatsha and Mndi.
Ngesi was remanded in custody and will make his third appearance in court on tomorrow.