The badly decomposed body of a woman found stuffed in the ceiling of a house in Mpumalanga, South Africa has been identified as that of a 34-year-old woman, Nosipho Caroline Mthombeni.
The house belongs to her boyfriend, Thabo Silas Tsotetsi, who has been declared wanted by the Mpumalanga police.
The gruesome discovery was made when police responded to a complaint about a foul odour from a house in Minaar Street at Balfour.
Speaking to TimesLIVE this week, Mthombeni’s grieving aunt Nomvula Maya said her daughter Phumzile had confronted the man weeks after Nosipho’s disappearance.
Phumzile said he “should stop making things hard for her family and just hand over her body so they could bury her”. But he insisted he knew nothing about her whereabouts, despite a stench in the house.
After the confrontation, the man disappeared. Three days later, on October 5, 2022, Mpumalanga police made the harrowing discovery.
Police spokesperson, Brig Selvy Mohlala said officers responded to a complaint about a bad odour coming from the house.
On arrival they found a lady who indicated that she had moved into the house about a month [earlier] to stay with the father of her child”.
“Police began checking the house to determine where the odour was coming from. At first, the ceiling trapdoor did not show clearly what was inside. However, members proceeded to the next room and broke the ceiling, [discovering] a human body wrapped with some clothes.
“Emergency services personnel were summoned to the scene but the body was in such a decomposed state that the gender could not be determined at that time. However later, through the shoes that the victim was wearing as well as the nail polish and other features, it was determined that it is a female. A murder case [was opened],” Mohlala told TimesLIVE.
Police are still searching for the man. Mthombeni’s heartbroken family has opened up about the events leading up to the shocking discovery.
Maya said questions were raised about her whereabouts several days before the body was found.
Mthombeni’s friends had reached out to Maya’s daughter Phumzile when they failed to make contact with the missing woman.
“Her friends asked, ‘when last did you speak to Nosipho?’ and my daughter told them that [Nosipho] wasn’t someone we spoke to frequently. Her friends then [revealed that] it’s been two months since they’ve been able to reach her on WhatsApp, via cellphone or Facebook.
“We didn’t take it seriously … Later [another family member] called my daughter and told her she too got a call from [the same] friends and also asked about Nosipho’s whereabouts,” said Maya.
Phumzile and a relative went to the man’s house to look for her but he said Nosipho had left for Secunda to work.
He allegedly disappeared a day after this confrontation, claiming he was “going to make payments of some accounts”.
Maya returned to the house, twice, to look for Mthombeni but was met by a woman who had moved in.
The troubled aunt said that while there, she noticed what appeared to be a blood stain on the carpet but was told it was caused by children.
A suspicious Maya then decided to speak to Mthombeni’s mother, who confirmed she last saw her daughter on August 26 when she had dropped off some vegetables on her way to church.
Mthombeni’s family and the woman in the house alerted police to the situation.
A devastated Maya described the family’s pain of finding out that the bad smell encountered on her visits emanated from a decomposed body.
“We weren’t allowed to see the body … [We didn’t] find a body but a ghost,” she said, her voice breaking.
Maya said the family knew little about Mthombeni’s relationship with the man, only that they apparently started dating in November 2021.
The family described her as a “sweet girl” who was reserved and humble.
“You wouldn’t find her all over the place … she was very pretty as well,” Maya said.
Asked what her family hoped for once the man was found, Maya said all they wanted was to know what happened.