'Don’t f**ken tell me how to talk to my girlfriend': Killer threatened murdered lover's friend, court hears

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Flavio Hlabangwane was arrested in November after the body parts were discovered inside the fridge in a back room he was renting in Protea Glen.
Flavio Hlabangwane was arrested in November after the body parts were discovered inside the fridge in a back room he was renting in Protea Glen.
Tebogo Monama
  • More damning evidence was led against a man who confessed to brutally killing his girlfriend.
  • A witness detailed damning cellphone messages between her and Flavio Hlabangwane.
  • The witness detailed the physical and emotional abuse the victim was subjected to. 

The man who confessed to killing and later dismembering his lover has made a U-turn in the Gauteng High Court sitting in Palm Ridge Magistrate's Court.

Flavio Hlabangwane, 28, changed his tune after a State's witness gave damning evidence against him on Thursday.

The witness, who refused to be identified, testified how she received threatening messages from Hlabangwane.

After listening to her evidence, he told his lawyer, advocate Tsakani Ndhlovu, he had no questions to pose to her.

During her evidence, Hlabangwane took notes in a book he has had by his side since the start of his trial.

"After our consultation with my client [Hlabangwane], I don't have questions for the witness. My client wants to make some certain admissions," Ndhlovu said.

Judge Cassim Moosa then gave Ndhlovu and her client time to prepare for their consultation.

The witness was one of victim Tshepang Pitse's best friends.

Audio clip

In an audio clip the witness received from Hlabangwane on WhatsApp, he is heard telling her not to advise Pitse, who had earlier complained to her he was physically abusing her.

The woman testified Pitse, who was also Hlabangwane's cousin, had confessed to her he was beating and belittling her.

"Please don't give me any advice how to run my relationship with my girlfriend. Don't tell me how to speak to my girlfriend and how I should speak to my girlfriend, how I should be treating her.

"I know what is best for her. If you feel you love her more than I do, take her with you. You guys must tell me where I stand. It's fine [sic]," Hlabangwane can be heard saying.

The audio clip continued: "I don't f**ken care, but don't f**ken come here thinking you can tell me how to f**ken talk to my girlfriend. So, I told you, I had an agreement with you. I spoke with you. I don't want to break [your relationship] apart. She knows that every time I talk to her, I tell her that I want her friendship with you to grow.

"That is what you do for somebody you love. If they love somebody else, you harness that relationship. What kind of advice is [it that] she must walk away [sic]?"

Hlabangwane goes on to tell Pitse's friend what she told the victim was not "mature advice".

"If somebody in your life gains more happiness by being with friends or other people they love, you harness those relationships, by making sure all the relationships they have work out.

"It didn't work out. So, don't come here telling me how I should be treating her, telling her you might love her more than me or she is better off on her own. That is making me really angry. 

"As a girlfriend, what you should be doing is telling her, sitting down with her, make sure you stand from an objective perspective saying you know what, you can fix your relationship by doing this and that [sic]," Hlabangwane told the witness.

READ | 'She told me he was going to kill her' - friend testifies in trial of man who dismembered girlfriend

The woman also testified he sent the audio clips as he was angry because she did not want Pitse to leave her (the witness's) house.

Pitse had spent the night at the witness's home, where she confessed Hlabangwane was abusing her.

"He was angry because I didn't let my friend leave. Even after I let her go [to him], he continued sending audio clips. I also got a phone call from him before he sent the clips.

"He said I should stay away from their relationship and not interfere. I didn't coerce Pitse to tell me anything. She was the one who told me. I didn't interfere in their relationship," she said.

The woman described Pitse as a tall and slender woman.

"Physically, she wasn't a strong person. She used to joke about her weight. She said she was fragile. Had Hlabangwane pushed her, she would fall. At that time, Hlabangwane was bigger than he is now. He was attending gym."

READ | Soweto body parts case: Family of dismembered woman too traumatised to attend court

She then told the court about a string of cellphone messages between Hlabangwane and herself.

The conversation occurred on the date he confessed he had killed Pitse.

At the time, the witness did not know she was dead.

She thought Pitse kept her phone off to concentrate on her examinations.

The witness was also shocked at how Hlabangwane got hold of her new cellphone number because the number was only known to Pitse.

The first message she received from Hlabangwane was on 12 October last year.

Cellphone messages

In some of the messages, it appeared Hlabangwane was attempting to woo the witness, telling her he and Pitse had "separated".

When the woman made it clear she was not interested in his advances, he turned cold.

The witness said she felt uncomfortable because Pitse was her best friend.

READ | Body parts in fridge: Court declares alleged murderer fit to stand trial

Earlier this week, Hlabangwane confessed he killed Pitse on 6 October last year and later dismembered her body over the next seven days.

He said before the murder, he took Pitse's bank card and bought food as he would sometimes do and did not have a problem with that. 

However, when he returned, she confronted him about using her card without informing her.

They had an argument which quickly escalated.

He pushed her and she hit the back of her head on the corner of a stove. As she stumbled towards him, he grabbed a knife and stabbed her.

Hlabangwane, who pleaded guilty, told the court how he then cut her body into pieces with a butcher's knife before getting rid of her head and torso.

Prosecutor advocate Johan Badenhorst opposed the guilty plea, saying Hlabangwane was only pleading guilty to a charge of murder and not premeditated murder as he was charged.

Badenhorst promised to bring evidence proving Hlabangwane planned Pitse's murder.

The trial continues on Friday.

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