An unfortunate case of a stabbing in East London in 2008 took an incredibly bizarre turn this week when the State’s witnesses unanimously declared that the victim who had allegedly been stabbed and killed showed up at his own funeral. It sounds like the plot twist at the beginning of an X-Files episode, but it’s actually the official story of several people involved in the case.
The incident, which tragically resulted in the death of Siphamandla Hlatshwayo, a 22 year old owner of a local shebeen or speakeasy. Shebeens are bars where liquor is served illicitly without a license. In Mr. Hlatshwayo’s case, however, the bar attracted the ire of Bongekile Nquiliso who attacked Hlatshwayo and his friend Sonwabo Walter Mpisane. The tragic incident reportedly resulted in the death of Hlatshwayo, who would later die on the spot where he had been stabbed. But it was not the last time he would be seen alive.
About a week later, Hlatshwayo appeared at his own funeral, dressed in the exact same clothing as he had been wearing on the night he died. His appearance resulted first in the fainting of his sister and then an intense heated fit of yelling and chaos. The apparition or reincarnation (of which even the witnesses were unsure) then turned and fled the scene with incredible dexterity. Unable to catch him, the witnesses demanded that the coffin be cremated right then and there. Arguments broke out among those assembled, and the witnesses would not
So what was the apparition doing at the funeral? Was it present to say one final goodbye to his loved ones? Or was it not an apparition at all, but merely yet another facet of an even stranger story that ultimately resulted in him fleeing the scene to avoid having to explain why he had two bodies? The original body belonging to Hlatshwayo was cremated during a ceremony days later. But is this a legal defense? If so many are convinced Hlatshwayo was actually alive and well during his own funeral, then was the body they eventually cremated even his? And if the body was not his, then will there be sufficient evidence to prove the murder even took place?
It’s almost reminiscent of the story of Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn who, after running away from home come back to witness their own funeral. In the story the two reveal themselves to be very much alive to the delight of the townspeople and Tom’s family. But it seems this story has a far different and even more confusing ending, only giving further credence to the adage “truth is stranger than fiction.” In this case, perhaps it is stranger because in fiction mysteries always have origin and can be solved or at least partially explained. In this case, however, it appears there is absolutely no explanation for why a man would appear at his own funeral but not at the trial to testify for or against the man accused of murdering him.