Police in the Northwest are investigating a case of murder, after a man’s body was found in the boot of a burning car, in what some believe is a homophobic incident.
Police responded to a report of a car burning in the Ikageng Section of Klipgat, approximately 40 km outside Pretoria, at around 07:00 on Thursday morning.
Provincial police spokesperson Colonel Adele Myburgh said upon arrival, officers immediately set to work to extinguish the fire, and upon further investigation the body of what is believed to be a male victim was found in the car’s boot.
The car’s ownership was traced to marketing and communications professional Sam Mbatha. Mbatha has been missing since Thursday.
“Unfortunately the body was burned beyond recognition,” Myburgh said, “which means they will have to wait for DNA testing to confirm the identity of the victim.
“A murder case has been opened, but because it can not yet be confirmed whether this was in fact the owner of the vehicle, police will have to wait before officially declaring Mr Mbatha to be the victim.”
Police had initially opened a missing person’s case as well, but have decided to put this on hold while they wait to confirm the identity of the victim.
Meanwhile, friends of Mbatha’s have taken to social media to mourn his death, as well as speak out against homophobia, which they believe was the motive for his death.
— THE GAY SUPERHERO. (@monD_Motadi) June 18, 2021
I am ANGRY!! My friend Sam Mbatha was murdered yesterday, they put him in the boot of his car and burnt him to death bc he was gay ???????? #SAPS will not sweep this underneath the rug!! WE DEMAND for #JusticeForSam ???? ???????? Enough is enough! #QueerLivesMatter pic.twitter.com/Ic8V5l5xqd
— ????????$. ????????????$ (@phineasandfeb) June 18, 2021
Mbatha’s family, meanwhile, have asked for those posting speculative messages on social media to refrain from doing so, and to allow the police to complete their investigation.
Police could not yet determine the motive for the murder, and no suspects have been identified.
- This article has been updated to include the statement from Mbatha’s family.