Polokwane - Police caught him in possession of a penis and scrotum. It later emerged that the genitals which 26-year-old Joel Ranoto carried in a container had been cut off a corpse at the B3 Funerals’ mortuary in Polokwane.
Ranoto made a brief appearance in the Polokwane Magistrate’s Court on Monday.
He was not asked to plead, and a visibly shocked magistrate Janine Ungerer released him on R1 000 bail.
“I hope you are innocent of this. Otherwise I would be very happy I am not you,” said Ungerer.
She then postponed the case to March 18 for further investigations.
Ranoto was arrested in Joubert Street in Polokwane on Friday after a traditional healer to whom he had offered to sell the body parts alerted the police.
“We have charged him for violation of a corpse and possession of human body parts,” Polokwane police spokesman Captain Ntobeng Phala said.
The chopping off of the genitals and Ranoto’s subsequent arrest left a grieving family at Ga-Semenya village outside Polokwane shocked and stranded.
Two tents had been erected for their relative’s funeral. A grave had been dug. But the corpse never arrived home on Friday.
Later that night, police informed them that the corpse had been violated.
Saturday’s funeral was postponed indefinitely.
Ranoto, from Ga-Mashashane village, works for Telezaro Funeral Parlour, according to Phala.
Telezaro also runs a funeral insurance policy for low-income earners.
The deceased’s mother, Mosima Semenya, 74, had taken out a policy Telezaro for her 60-year-old son.
Telezaro uses B3 Funerals’ mortuary to store corpses for its clients. B3 Funerals regional director Sefako Marei said Telezaro had asked to use his company’s mortuary temporarily until they built their own facility.
“On Friday, he (Ranoto) came here to dress up the corpse. The next thing it was an issue of the police,” said Marei.
He said B3 Funerals had nothing to do with the incident and it would immediately cancel the arrangement with Telezaro. “Unfortunately we learnt the hard way,” said Marei.
On Monday, the chief operations officer of Telezaro, Matsobane Mathaba, refused to comment.
The bereaved family said Mathaba had promised to pay for the expenses after the funeral was cancelled on Saturday, but changed his tune the next day.
The deceased’s mother, Mosima, and his wife Selina said the family could not afford another funeral.
“No one in this family is working,” said Mosima.
She described the cutting of her son’s genitals as shocking.
“I can’t sleep at night. I have no appetite for food. We will never forgive him for what he did to us,” said Mosima