Errol Heynstock (pictured in dock), 51, was sentenced for murdering his girlfriend, burying her in his backyard and using her identity to commit theft and fraud in Kroonstad. Photo: Supplied

Kroonstad - A 51-year-old man was expected to spend the next 19 years behind bars after he was found guilty of murdering his girlfriend, burying her in his backyard and using her identity to commit theft and fraud in Kroonstad, the third largest city in South Africa's Free State province, police said on Friday.

Errol Heynstock, also known by the alias Andrew Michaels, was sentenced to 13 years imprisonment for murder, six for theft and six years for fraud. The fraud sentence would run concurrently with the murder and theft sentences, police spokesperson Malebo Khosana said in a statement.

Khosana said the discovery of the woman's body was made after her brother reported to police that she had been missing for one month.

"The house and its vicinity was thoroughly combed by warrant officer Strydom of Kroonstad K9 and his biological bodily fluid dog Benji which reacted positively to the garden fork which was inside the back room," Khosana said.

Later, police noticed a spot in Heynstock's backyard which appeared to be a grave. 

"They dug at the spot and the body of a woman was found and exhumed."

Police later discovered that Heynstock had stolen the woman's furniture and used her identity to acquire cash loans.

African News Agency/ANA