'Decent' man accused of chopping up son

Maria Sithole is the partner of the 70-year-old man who allegedly killed his mentally disabled son in Atteridgeville, Pretoria.
Maria Sithole is the partner of the 70-year-old man who allegedly killed his mentally disabled son in Atteridgeville, Pretoria.

The elderly man who allegedly killed and mutilated his disabled son's body into pieces is a responsible man who took good care of him, according to his partner and neighbour.

The 70-year-old Lazarus Pitjeng was seen by residents at the weekend pushing a trolley with the remains of his son, Frans Pitjeng, 48, to a local dumping site in Atteridgeville Extension 9, west of Pretoria.

His neighbour, Lydia Shoba, said they saw the suspect leaving his house pushing a trolley towards the dumping site on Saturday at about 6pm but did not suspect anything.

She said at the dumping site the suspect was accosted by residents who scolded him and asked him not to dump rubbish there as they were about to clear it.

"One of the residents noticed blood dripping from the refuse bag. He then kicked the bag and a human head tumbled out. We heard a whistle and rushed to the scene. I could not believe my eyes when I saw the deceased's head and Pitjeng being held up by residents," Shoba said.

She said she had seen her neighbour earlier on inthe day going about his household chores but did not see his son as she usually did.

According to Shoba, the man regularly sat with his son, who had a mental disability and epilepsy, on a bench outside, holding hands. "He loved his son. He bathed and fed him. We are still asking ourselves what drove him to kill his son in such a brutal manner."

The man's live-in partner of 15-years, Maria Sithole, was visiting relatives in Mpumalanga when the alleged incident happened.

She said when she left on Friday, there was nothing out of the ordinary and she was dumbstruck when she received a call from her neighbour about the horrible news.

"He is a good man. He does not drink or smoke and I have never seen him violent. He loved his son with all his heart and it was not difficult to see that he loved him. I do not know what got into him," Sithole said.

She admitted the deceased was her partner's son from a previous relationship. The couple have two children together, twins aged 15.

"It is a terrible incident and I have not been able to sleep ever since. I have too many questions. The biggest question is why he did something so horrible to his own flesh and blood."

Captain Thomas Mufamadi of Atteridgeville police said they received a call from residents who handed over the suspect when police arrived at the scene. "He has been charged with murder and appeared in the Atteridgeville Magistrate's Court [on Monday]."

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