We had an affair and my husband got suspicious, says woman implicated in Soshanguve 'fake death' case

Murder acccused Lerato Mahlangu in the Pretoria high court on June 10 2024.
Murder acccused Lerato Mahlangu in the Pretoria high court on June 10 2024.

An explosive revelation was made in the high court in Pretoria on Wednesday by the woman accused of conspiring with her husband to murder her ex-lover and father of her child and using his body to fake her husband's death. 

Through her lawyer, Lerato Mahlangu told the court she had been having an affair with her ex-lover, Sibusiso Sithebe, and that her husband, Sibusiso Mahlangu, had become suspicious of them shortly before Sithebe was murdered. 

Sithebe was found dead in the couple's bedroom in their house in Soshanguve on January 1 2022. He had burnt to death. 

Lerato's lawyer, Ledile Mphela, said the day before Sithebe was killed she had plans to meet him after attending a family lunch with her husband at her in-laws. However, she instead went back to KwaMhlanga, Mpumalanga, where she worked at Old Mutual at Phola Park Mall.

“The deceased wanted to meet her and because [Sibusiso Mahlangu] was suspicious, she couldn’t meet with him that day. While on her way to KwaMhlanga, she was communicating with the deceased and she also told the deceased that she wanted to end things with him because her husband was now suspicious,” Mphela told the court.

The court heard Sithebe allegedly begged Lerato not to end their alleged affair.

“The last time she spoke to the deceased was about 8pm that night.”

At about 1am on January 2, she received a call from her neighbour, Josephine Mashoene, who told her that the house was on fire.

“[Lerato] asked where [Sibusiso Mahlangu] was. [Mashoene] couldn’t give her further information and she said she must come because the house is on fire. Because she was new to the area [of KwaMhlanga], she didn’t know anyone and decided to request an Uber.”

The Uber dropped her at a spaza shop where she met Mashoene, who accompanied her back to the burning house, where they found police and members of the public. Lerato allegedly told the police the body in the house was likely her husband as he was supposed to have been home at the time.

On Wednesday Mashoene testified that Lerato had been allowed into the bedroom where the body was. 

“She was crying and they asked her if she knew his date of birth or ID number. She said no. The police said we should accompany her into the house so she can check if indeed it was her husband,” said Mashoene.

She said as they walked in, Lerato picked up an unknown object from the floor before they proceeded to the bedroom.

“When we entered the house, the deceased was lying with one hand on the stomach and the other stretched out and [Lerato] held the left hand to feel the pulse then closed the deceased’s eyes and shook his body, shouting: 'Sibusiso! Sibusiso!' After that she covered the body with a blanket and chased us away.

“She started crying and was wailing loudly and she came outside and was throwing herself on the ground and rolling on the ground, crying. I left because I was going to work.”

For more than a year, Lerato played the part of a grieving widow and her husband's family buried Sithebe believing it was their son. 

Lerato and Sibusiso are alleged to have then claimed on insurance policies worth more than R500 000. They were eventually arrested after Sibusiso was stopped at a roadblock on suspicion of driving a stolen car. 

The couple face charges of murder and four counts of fraud.


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