KZN businessman’s corpse stolen

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iol pic sa NT BMANZI5 INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPERS The owner of Somana Dignified Funerals, Zodwa Radebe, 55, who was tasked to organise the funeral of flamboyant businessman Bheki Manzi, says his body was stolen from her funeral parlour last Saturday. She sits next to the coffin Manzi was supposed to be buried in. Picture: BONGANI MBATHA

The body of KwaZulu-Natal businessman Bheki Manzi, which was stolen from a funeral parlour last week, was found dumped on his mother’s doorstep late on Friday.

A group of heavily-armed men and women allegedly stormed into Somana Dignified Funeral Services in Umbilo, assaulting staff and forcing them to release the corpse at gunpoint last Saturday.

Manzi, who was a school principal, rose to prominence as the owner of a security company that provided services at PSL games.

Despite his missing body, a funeral, with an empty coffin, was held last week at Princess Magogo Stadium in KwaMashu and was attended by PSL big guns.

After the funeral the empty coffin was returned to the funeral home.

His body - which is being kept in a safe place - was retrieved by police in KwaMaphumulo after Manzi’s mother alerted them that it had been dumped at her door.

A man dropped off the body and sped off before his mother could identify him.

It now appears that there may have been a tug of war between Manzi’s mother and son Menzi, and his wife Leh.

The families were divided over where he should be buried, according to a source who cannot be named.

SAPS spokesman, Captain Thulani Zwane, said: “The corpse has been found. No arrests have been made, investigations are ongoing.”

A family member who did not want to be named said that the body was being kept in a safe place in Durban.

They were unsure who would have “the guts to do something like this”.

“We hope that the police investigations will make it clear who stole the body,” she said.

She was unsure when the body would be buried as the family would have to meet to make the necessary arrangements.

Manzi was known for his lavish lifestyle and his love of sports cars. He amassed his fortune through owning a number of taxis. He also scored a lucrative security contract for PSL games at Moses Mabhida Stadium, where he was known to use his knobkierie to control unruly fans.

After his death his estranged wife Leh Manzi made funeral arrangements with Zodwa Radebe of Somana Dignified Funerals in Umbilo.

Radebe, 55, told the Sunday Tribune she received a call from Manzi’s wife a week ago to arrange the funeral.

Manzi’s body was fetched from the hospital and stored at her funeral parlour.

But she then received a court order forcing her to stop all arrangements, served on behalf of Manzi’s son Mzamo.

Manzi’s wife opposed the order and was granted the right to bury her husband. Although the couple were separated, they were still legally married.

Radebe alleges the theft arose when Manzi’s mother and son from his first marriage wanted him to be buried at his traditional homestead in KwaMaphumulo, while Leh wanted another burial place.

Radebe said she continued with the funeral preparations on behalf of Leh.

“The family were supposed to bring the clothes to bury the deceased on Saturday morning last week, the day of the funeral. But things took a turn for the worse that day.

“I got a call from one of my employees saying 20 people, some armed, were at the mortuary with a number of vehicles. One of the employees was assaulted.

“The group took the naked corpse, placing it in a Mercedes Vito and drove off,” said Radebe.

She called the police and Manzi’s wife to inform them what had happened. “We drove to KwaMaphumulo with the police because we thought that was where they may take his body because it is his birthplace. We found his brother there who told us taxi men had dropped off cattle for the funeral and left. He didn’t know where the body was.”

Radebe said there were claims that Manzi’s personal documents, as well as more than R2 million from his bank account, were missing, which had not been confirmed.

She is still reeling from the shock of the theft.

“This is the first time something like this has happened. I have heard of robberies but I have never heard of people stealing a dead body. Luckily we embalmed the body,” she said.

Leh refused to comment, saying her lawyers had instructed her not to speak to the media. - Sunday Tribune


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