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The Molete family buried Daniel Molete last week in grief and confusion after he had been missing for 10 months.
Only after his death did they learn that he had been in police custody all along. His son, Ishmael Molete, said he received a message from an "Inspector Lerumo" of Luhurutshe police in Mafikeng about his father on October 20.
Ishmael had last seen his father in November last year. "When I called Lerumo, he told me that my father had died in custody and that he had been in jail since November last year."
The family had established that Molete was last seen on November 25 last year at a shebeen in Claremont, Johannesburg.
"Apparently, two people came and asked to speak to him about some construction business. They went outside with him. That was the last time he was seen alive," said the son.
Ishmael contacted friends and family in a desperate search for his father, but none knew where he was. Three days later, he reported his father missing at Sophiatown police station.
The Moletes never heard from anyone until October 20 when the news came that he had died in custody on September 29. He had been arrested on November 25 for a murder that took place in 1989.
"Daniel Molete stabbed someone to death in August 1989 and had been on the run since then," said police spokesman Louis Jacobs.
"He had appeared in Lehurutshe magistrate's court and had been denied bail."
Police say Molete died of pneumonia in Lehurutshe Hospital in North West.