Murdered after frantic call to wife

Published Dec 8, 2006


By Shaun Smillie

He phoned his wife to say he was being boxed in by two cars with no number plates and he thought he was about to be hijacked.

Ninety minutes later, 31-year-old Avhatakali Netshisaulu's incinerated body was discovered in the boot of his burnt-out VW Golf on a deserted farm road in Nooitgedacht, west of Joburg.

Netshisaulu is the son of Mathatha Tsedu, the editor of the City Press newspaper.

His gutted Golf was discovered at about 10pm last night by family members who had been searching for Netshisaulu since his call to his wife.

West Rand police spokesperson Superintendent Milica Bezuidenhout said this morning the motive of the attack was "definitely murder, not hijacking".

"They did not take any of his belongings, instead they burnt his car," he said.

According to Tsedu, Netshisaulu had left his Northriding house and was heading to Honeydew when he phoned his wife, Mulalo.

"He told her that there were two cars without registration plates that were trying to sandwich him in," said Tsedu.

Later unable to re-establish contact with her husband, Mulalo alerted the police and the tracking company Netstar. But to her dismay she discovered that the tracking device in Netshisaulu's car was not working.

She also called her brother, Awelani Muhanelwa, who quickly arrived at her house. The two of them climbed into Mulalo's car and began to trace the route they thought that Netshisaulu would have taken to Honeydew.

Driving the route, Muhanelwa noticed skid marks on the road and suspected they might be connected to Netshisaulu's disappearance - so he began to follow them.

"They were all over the road but then they disappeared about 3km from here," said Muhanelwa from the scene of the crime on Thursday night.

Muhanelwa and Mulalo were continuing their search when they noticed a car on fire on a farm track just off the Old Pretoria Road.

Firefighters were on the scene and were trying to extinguish the blaze.

"At first I thought that it was just an accident but I decided to have a look. I parked the car on the side of the road and walked across," said Muhanelwa.

When he got closer, Muhanelwa realised it was Netshisaulu's car.

"I started searching the surrounding bush, I thought that maybe they had robbed him, set his car on fire and left him there," Muhanelwa said.

But it was when firefighters had extinguished the blaze that Muhanelwa realised Netshisaulu's fate - through the broken back window of the Golf, he could see the remains of a body.

"I tried to walk back to Mulalo's car but suddenly I felt so weak, all I could do was call out to my sister," said Muhanelwa.

Mulalo and Netshisaulu were married in March and had moved into their new house last Friday.

The brutal murder has puzzled Netshisaulu's family.

"He was a good guy, he didn't drink, he use to stay at home with his wife. I don't understand why they had to burn him like that," said Muhanelwa.

Netshisaulu was a chartered accountant who worked for Anglo Platinum.

"I only hope that they killed him before the fire," said Tsedu, moments after he watched a mortuary van carry away the remains of his son.

Sapa reports Tsedu said his family was finding it difficult to accept Netshisaulu's death, which was a also a loss to the nation.

"Netshisaulu was a gifted child, that we should as a nation lose someone like him this way is very painful," Tsedu said.

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