Son held after woman’s body found in ‘grave’ in garden

The mystery of what had happened to a missing Port Elizabeth couple unravelled further

The shallow grave behind a house in the Govan Mbeki locality of Kwadwesi where one of the missing bodies was found.
The shallow grave behind a house in the Govan Mbeki locality of Kwadwesi where one of the missing bodies was found.
Image: supplied

As residents rallied and helped police track down and arrest a young man for murder, what is believed to be the body of his mother was found in their back garden.

The mystery of what had happened to a missing Port Elizabeth couple unravelled further when the woman’s body was found following the discovery earlier of what is believed to be the badly burnt body of her husband.

Their son, Wonga Taule, 22 – who had vanished – was apprehended near the family’s KwaDwesi home on Wednesday after trying to evade arrest and, according to police, made a full confession later.

He will appear in the New Brighton Magistrate’s Court on Friday.

Although neighbours described the suspect as mentally handicapped, police have alleged he is a known drug user.

Police cordon off the area where the charred remains of a person were found.
Police cordon off the area where the charred remains of a person were found.
Image: Werner Hills

It is believed Mountain Sipho Taule, 60, and his wife Jeanette, 55 – who were reported missing on Tuesday afternoon – were killed during a heated family argument a week ago.

The search for the couple led to the discovery of a charred body in the bushes near their home on Wednesday morning as well as bones on a fireplace behind the house.

At the time, police suspected the bones were those of one of the missing parents.

According to officials, Wonga fled when police arrived at the family’s Mti Street house in the Govan Mbeki area of KwaDwesi on Tuesday.

“We were told by residents in the area he was mentally challenged, but when we arrested him he seemed alert and responsive to our questioning,” police spokesperson Captain Andre Beetge said.

“He is, however, a known drug user and we suspect that this is where the confusion came in.”

Wonga was found by residents who launched a search with the police to find him.

“He was caught by residents a few streets away from their [parents’] house,” Beetge said.

“A patrolling police van spotted a commotion and as they approached, residents waved them down.

“The suspect was handed over to the officials and taken to the police station.”

The area where one of the bodies was found during a police search earlier in the week
The area where one of the bodies was found during a police search earlier in the week
Image: Werner Hills

Detectives had been questioning Wonga on Wednesday night on what had transpired when, they claimed, he confessed to the murder.

“I can confirm that we have a confession but as it is an ongoing case, we cannot divulge the contents,” Beetge said.

Wonga assisted the police later when he was taken to the scene of the crime by pointing out certain areas.

Police had already found one body about 70m from the house in the bush, which doubles as an informal dumpsite.

The body, believed to be that of Mountain, was found along the fence of the Tyhilulwazi Senior Secondary School in the same street.

Officials said another body, believed to be that of Jeanette, had been dug up in the back garden of the house on Wednesday night.

“She was buried in a shallow grave that was about 1m deep,” a police official said.

“The mother was not burnt, but it appears the father was burnt in a fireplace area next to the grave alongside the house.

“It is suspected that when [the suspect] realised there was a problem getting rid of the remains, he carried the burnt body to the dump site.”

The shallow grave, which was covered with building rubble and bricks, is about 1m from the fireplace where the bones were found.

Beetge said only when forensic results came back would they know whether the bones found were linked to the two bodies.

The murders appeared to be linked to an argument last week, he said.

Asked about Wonga’s mental state, Beetge said police would consult with the National Prosecuting Authority, which would decide on the next step.

“The NPA, however, will advise if they want him to go for a psychological evaluation.”

Family members at the scene said they had last communicated with the couple more than a week ago via WhatsApp. A neighbour and childhood friend of Wonga, who did not want to be named, said his mental state had seemed to deteriorate over the past few weeks.

“We would see him sitting outside his house and he would hit people with stones and plastic bags with [faeces] who tried to walk close to his house.

“He did not grow up sick, it started about two years ago.”

Another neighbour seemed to back up police claims, alleging that Wonga “smoked weed and mandrax”.

“I think him [allegedly losing it] could have been from his drug usage.

“He was a fine guy and he smoked by himself. ”

Motherwell cluster commander Major-General Dawie Rabie thanked the residents for their assistance in the case.

“The only reason we were alerted to a possible crime was due to the vigilance of the residents in the area,” he said.

“We need to thank the residents for coming forward and alerting us to suspicious behaviour.”

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