Missing man found hanging from tree

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Copy of DF suicide 2212d

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A police officer and a fireman stand close to where the body of 35-year-old Simon Thebe Mokeng was found hanging. Photo: Soraya Crowie

Kimberley - In what could be the first suicide of the 2013 festive season, a decomposing body of a man was found hanging from a tree near the banks of the Riet River in Ritchie on Saturday evening... three days after he disappeared from his home in Motswedimosa.

The body of 35-year-old Simon Thebe Mokeng was hanging by a rope from a branch of a tree with his head bent backwards.

“He left home on Thursday morning saying that he was going to borrow money from one of the locals. When he did not return later in the afternoon, we started looking for him all over the town. We called him several times on his phone but he did not answer. However, when we called again today (Saturday), the phone was off. On Friday we reported him missing at the police station,” Mokeng’s eldest sister, Elsie, said.

Details of when and how Mokeng got to the river and apparently hanged himself could not be clarified because members of the community, who had congregated at the riverside to look at the grisly find, did not know when the incident happened.

“We are all shocked by this incident,” they said.

The foul smell that was emitted by the decomposing body enveloped the area close to the river and members of the public had to use their clothes to cover their noses.

“Although my brother suffers from epilepsy, we were not expecting him to end his life like this. When he left home, there were no signs that he was unhappy or sick and that he could do what he did. We are traumatised. We don’t know where to start picking up the pieces,” Elsie said.

Mokeng’s younger sister, Andronesa, described him as a “God-fearing man”.

The sisters said that Mokeng lived in a shanty at the back of the main house in which the family lived.

They requested assistance in allocating their father, Luke Molefe, who is believed to be in Zeerust, North West.

“We tried to call him but both his phones are off. We need him to come home following this tragedy,” Elsie added.

Northern Cape police spokesman, Lieutenant Donald Mdhluli, said that an inquest docket had been opened in connection with Mokeng’s death.

“Mokeng was reported missing on Saturday to the police. We were still looking for him when members of the public told us about a body of a man that was hanging in a tree. Circumstances surrounding his death are still unknown at this stage,” Mdhluli said.

He urged members of the community who had information that could assist in the case to contact the Modderrivier police on 053 581 0003 or call Crime Stop on 08600 10111. Members of the public can also send SMSes to 32211.

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