North West - The brutal murder of a 25-year-old woman has shocked the residents of Swartruggens in North West Province.
Maria Mathe’s body was found mutilated behind Theo’s, a local mini shopping complex, on Sunday.
Her face had been smashed with a stone, her breasts cut off and her private parts and abdomen cut open.
The post-mortem revealed that her heart and lungs had also removed.
It is not known what happened to the body parts.
When news of the brutal murder first did the rounds, her family had thought an unknown woman had been slain.
But then a neighbour, who works for owners of the small shopping complex, made the gruesome discovery on Sunday.
“There were rumours about a girl in the area who had been killed. When Maria was found on Sunday, it answered the questions we had about why she would be gone for so long,” said her older sister Sarah Mathe.
“Yoh, it was painful. It really hurt us. We’re trying to cope but it is hard,” said Sarah.
Mathe, who was affectionately known as “Tantantjie”, lived with her aunt Mary in the Swartruggens township of Morelelo. Her mother and sister live a few streets away.
Sarah described her younger sister as a good person who loved people. She was sociable and often went into town to meet with friends.
Sarah last saw her just after 4pm on Friday as she was heading to town.
On Wednesday, when The Star visited their home, Mathe’s mother Inah and Mary had gone to Rustenburg to fetch Mathe’s body from the government mortuary.
“We are still in shock that it was Maria. We are happy that the killer has been arrested, and now we can get closure,” said Inah in a telephonic interview.
The complex’s owners, who did not want to be named, said Mathe had been at the sports bar from around 8.30pm on Friday. They said she was a regular customer at the bar and a loner.
On that night, Mathe was to meet with friends for drinks.
They said she left with a man she knew.
“They used to play pool together all the time, so no one thought anything of it,” one of the owners said.
They added they were shocked at how gruesome the murder was.
“No one deserves that.”
North West police spokeswoman Captain Pelonomi Makau said a man had been arrested and would appear in the Swartruggens Magistrate’s Court either Thursday or Friday.
She said the matter was still being investigated and more information would be released after the suspect appeared in court.
Makau could not confirm whether there had been similar killings in the area.
“This is the only one that has been reported,” she said.
Mathe will be buried on Sunday.