Man burns wife to death then takes own life

A MOZAMBICAN man stabbed his South African girlfriend to death, set their house on fire, assaulted his stepson with a hammer and is alleged to have poisoned his two sons before hanging himself.

The incident occurred in Vaalbank village near Siyabuswa in Mpumalanga on Friday morning.

Vincent Mhlanga, 51, is believed to have gone berserk in the early hours of the morning after accusing Leva Molefe, 25, of cheating on him with another man.

The parents of the dead woman, Simon Molefe, 56, and his wife Lisbeth Molefe, 53, are struggling to come to terms with the death of their daughter.

Their house is a stone's throw from her home.

The grieving mom said her son-in-law started abusing their daughter physically and emotionally early this year.

"I last saw her on Wednesday afternoon when I visited them," she said.

"There was a heated quarrel between the two on that day.

"I asked them to tell me about it so that we could get together as a family and resolve it.

"But he shouted loudly and said he could not tell me because I am a woman and I knew nothing about resolving relationship problems.

"I now feel as if I have lost everything. She was such a good person and did not deserve to die in such a tragic manner."

The deceased couple began their relationship in 2001. They were unemployed and survived on the government support grants of their three sons, Tlhakane, 4, Bongani, 7, and Solly, 9. Solly is not Mhlanga's biological son.

The grandfather said they were woken up by the screams of their grandson Solly at 5am.

"My grandson was bleeding profusely and he told us his stepfather had hit him over the head with a hammer and had set their house on fire.

"We rushed to the house and found the police putting out the fire. It was all too late since most of the items were completely burnt," he said.

The boy recounted how he gallantly saved his two younger brothers from the flames.

He said his stepfather woke the children up and forced Tlhakane and Bongani to drink water that is believed to have been poisoned.

"He hit me once with a hammer over the head before he went into the bedroom where my mother was sleeping."

The Grade 3 pupil said he saw flames emerging from every room and ran to rescue his siblings from the inferno.

"I grabbed them one by one and rushed outside, where I covered them so that my stepdad could not see them."

The boy said he hid his brothers close to the tree from which the enraged man hanged himself, but luckily he didn't see them.

The three boys were taken to the Mmametlhake Hospital for treatment. Solly was discharged a few hours later.

The condition of the two children believed to have been poisoned has not yet been disclosed.

Vaalbank police spokesperson Constable Vusi Ntuli said Solly woke up in the early hours of the morning to find their RDP house in flames.

"He grabbed his two siblings and hid them inside a large washtub before dashing to seek help."

Ntuli said the boy was accompanied by a relative when he reported the matter to the police. His statement said: "The house was burning. My mother was sleeping inside and did not wake up. My father was at the back of the house."

Cases of murder, arson and an inquest docket have been opened for investigation.