Soweto body parts murder - 'We just want to give our child a dignified funeral'

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Murder accused Flavio Hlabangwane made a brief court appearance but it had to be postponed so he and his lawyer could sort out their financial issues.
Murder accused Flavio Hlabangwane made a brief court appearance but it had to be postponed so he and his lawyer could sort out their financial issues.
Christopher Moagi

He stood there, quietly looking down and not at the people who had gathered to hear why.

All they wanted to know was why he had allegedly killed a woman who’s thought to be his cousin? Why did he allegedly keep the limbs in his fridge?

But they will have to wait a bit more for answers. Soweto-born 26-year-old Flavio Hlabangwane briefly appeared at Protea Magistrates Court, Soweto on Tuesday on a charge of murder after body parts allegedly belonging to a cousin he seemingly was in a relationship with were found in the fridge on 13 November.

He now wants to apply for a mental evaluation but has to wait because he failed to pay his lawyer.

Police are still awaiting DNA results to confirm if the deceased was indeed his cousin, but her family believe it’s her.

Her family came out in numbers at the court case. Because the identity of the deceased is still to be confirmed, Drum will not name her or her family.

The deceased’s aunt says the family is deeply hurt and still in disbelief over this whole incident. She says they were kept in the dark but managed to find out when Flavio will appear in court again because they want answers.

“All that we want as a family is our child so we can bury her back at home in Rustenburg.”

The furious aunt expressed how as a family they were failed by Flavio’s mother, who is also reportedly their niece’s aunt. They said she hasn’t communicated with the family.

“That woman failed us, but we hope that the law will take its course. Ever since this whole thing happened, she hasn’t said a word to us or even kept us in the loop since we still haven’t buried our child. We are all hurt because that child and her sister were both raised by their father and it is only right that he gives his daughter a dignified funeral,” Daphney says.

National Prosecuting Authority, Gauteng spokesperson Phindi Mjonondwane said the body parts that are with the investigation team must still undergo DNA testing. Therefore they cannot confirm the identity of the deceased in this case.

“In terms of the body parts that the investigation team has, it’s only the limps without a torso as well as the skull that was discovered two weeks back. These body parts must still undergo DNA testing. We are in conversation with the father of the person that we think is deceased in this case because the identity has not yet been confirmed,” Phindi tells Drum.

She says the identity of the body parts will be known after DNA swaps have been gathered from the father, and taken for testing. Investigations are still ongoing for the DNA.

The accused’s mom was present in court to show support to her son and quickly left. When Drum tried to reach out to her at her home in White City just after the news broke, she said she was so overwhelmed and her doctor had instructed her to rest.

Flavio, from White City Jabavu, previously appeared in court Monday on 22 November 2021 to apply for a mental evaluation after he attempted to commit suicide for the second time; this was during his second appearance at court. His lawyer Gift Mncube requested that Flavio be placed in custody because special care is needed and should be provided for his client.

On Tuesday, the same lawyer told the court that he would not be able to proceed with the matter as he had not received financial instructions.

“There is a slight predicament; the accused’s family indicated to me that they currently do not have funds. They asked for a bit of time to gather the funds required for the matter to proceed. By Friday I will have financial instructions to proceed,” he told the court.

Founder of Kwanele Foundation Sihle Sibisi was also present to show support to both families in court.

The foundation is famously known for standing and advocating for GBV (Gender-Based Violence) victims.

“When we were alerted of this gruesome murder, we came to support both families, as we have been following up with the case, and we intend to follow through until justice is served. We are about rehabilitation and restoration for both the victim and the perpetrator’s family.”

She says they offer both families support because they both experience the same trauma, and today they are getting in touch with the father because he is based in Rustenburg.

“There is nothing much to say thus far as Flavio still needs to pay his legal team to represent him. We wait for Friday for everything to proceed but we want the families to get restoration and healing in the process while we wait for the law to take its course,” Sihle says.

Magistrate David Mhango postponed the matter to Friday, 3 December 2021 for the accused and his lawyer to sort out the financial issues.

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