Lay chaplain found dead at home

By Graeme Hosken Time of article published Jan 7, 2011

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Prominent Anglican chaplain and powerful South African property development businesswoman Ntombekaya September has been found dead in her multimillion-rand Pretoria home.

The body of September, 45, whose cause of death police said was unknown, was found in her luxury high-security Lawley Street, Waterkloof, home by Pretoria Anglican Bishop Jo Seoka and her domestic worker yesterday.

September, who was the first woman lay chaplain to the bishop of Pretoria and had worked for the City of Johannesburg and the Development Bank of Southern Africa, was found lying face down on her bed fully clothed.

There were apparently no signs of any injuries to her body, which was found after Seoka called a locksmith to open the house.

It is believed that September’s home had been locked from the inside.

Her car, later recovered by police in the Edenvale area, microwave, kettle, TV, handbag and cellphone were missing when police arrived at the scene.

The death of September – who is a partner at Maluleke, Luthuli and Associates (MLA), a Joburg development planning company, and a non-executive director of the prominent Basil Read construction firm – has sent shock waves through the country’s town planning, development and construction industry as well as the Anglican church.

September was the MLA team leader for Tshwane’s professional team for the World Cup. It managed all construction and development projects for the tournament for the city council.

A shocked Seoka said he was devastated by her death.

“It is a massive blow to the church. She was such a wonderful, kind and caring person who was always going out of her way to help the underprivileged and disempowered,” he said.

“We last saw Ntombekaya on Sunday for a church service.

“My wife and I celebrated our wedding anniversary with her on Saturday. She seemed so happy and full of joy. I cannot believe it.”

He added that they had also spent Christmas together.

Seoka said he had known September, whose parents were to visit her from Cape Town next week, for 11 years. She had become a part-time lay chaplain last year and was extremely devoted to the church and the duties that came with it.

Commenting on how he found September, Seoka said her domestic worker had been unable to get into the house for the past two days.

“We peeped through the garage door and saw that her car, which was last seen leaving her house on Tuesday night, was missing.

“We tried to open the gates, but because they have specialised locks we had to call in a locksmith.

“Once inside we searched the house and found her in the bedroom.

“There was no damage to the house. It is clear that whoever took her possessions knew the exact layout of the house,” he said.

Seoka said he firmly believed that September had let someone she knew into her house.

“People have to be extremely vigilant… one never knows when they are letting a culprit into their home,” he said.

Jean-luc Limacher, MLA director and a close friend of September, said they were devastated by her death.

“We last saw each other in December when the company closed for the Christmas break.

“She was due to return to work next week.

“She was highly competent and was involved in leading the team that managed Tshwane’s World Cup construction and development projects such as security, communication, entertainment, construction and beautification.

“She was a brilliant person and extremely professional and competent. You don’t sit on the board of one of the top 40 JSE listed companies for no reason,” he said.

She was also heavily involved in community upliftment, he said.

The Brooklyn police station commissioner, Brigadier Andre Wiese, confirmed September’s car had been recovered, but said none of her possessions had been found.

“At this stage the cause of death is unknown. Stuff was taken from the house. There was no sign of forced entry at the house.

“We have opened an inquest docket and the post-mortem, which will be conducted today, and its results will direct the investigation. At this stage we simply don’t know what happened,” he said. - Pretoria News

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