A 61-year-old South African man was killed,  chopped to pieces and buried in a shallow grave — allegedly by his wife, as well as her boyfriend and a friend.

These were the chilling claims made by the friend, who told police how he was duped into helping to bury Shelly Lekalakala by his wife and her boyfriend.

Shelly was reported missing by his 37-year-old wife on January 2017. By then he had already been dead for more than two weeks.

According to Temba police, a terrified man arrived at the police station on Wednesday to confess to being party to burying a body in the Bosplaas bushes.

Police spokesperson Kay Makhubela said the man told of how he was tricked into helping burying the body in what he initially thought was ritual practice.

He said he later learnt it was a horrible murder.

The man told police how he received a phone call on New Year’s Eve from a friend asking him to help carry a heavy metal bath into the bush nearby.

“It’s believed the guy who called the ‘confessor’ for help is the boyfriend of the deceased man’s wife,” said Makhubela.

When the man arrived at Shelly’s house in Ramotse, he found his friend and the victim’s wife wrapping objects and throwing them inside a metal sink.

When he questioned them what they were doing he was told not to worry and that it was a ritual for good luck since the woman was a traditional doctor in training.

The man who confessed unsuspectingly proceeded to help the duo and helped carry the metal sink to the bush, which is about 2km from the house.

“(He) told police the initial idea was to throw the metal sink inside a river. But they did not go ahead with that plan; the trio attempted to dig a hole instead,” said Makhubela.

“The trio didn’t finish digging the hole that night. They came back the next night,” he said.

It was on the second night that the confessor was highly suspicious and discovered that the wrapped-up objects were actually Shely’s body parts.

When he questioned the pair again he was told that he too would be killed and buried. Two weeks went by before the wife reported him missing.

Shelly’s, Johanna Hlongwane, said she became suspicious after not seeing the him for two weeks.

“I only saw the wife and her boyfriend playing music and having parties, but I had not a single sight of him,” she said.

She called his family who came to question the wife. But the family were not successful in getting answers.

“What is worse is that all three of them lived in the house and the slain man had been convinced that his wife’s boyfriend was just a tenant. They were playing him for a fool right under his nose,” said Hlongwane.

Two days before she last saw him he was also badly beaten by his wife and her boyfriend, Hlongwane said.

“One of my children stopped the beating,” she said.

Close friend Frank Motaung said the man worked at the Department of Public Works and was scheduled to go on pension. He had never had any children.

As Shelly’s body was pulled out of the crude grave in a bush in Bosplaas, Hammanskraal, his family members and neighbours could barely contain their tears as forensic officials dug up the body.

Community members admitted that they had always had a hunch that the wife was somehow involved, and so they mobilised and tried questioning her, but she called the police and was escorted away.

The wife and her boyfriend have not been seen since January 19.

On Wednesday the man who went to police directed officers to the grave and on Thursday the police exhumed the remains. The man has been detained at Temba police station while the police search for the other suspects.

At the graveside the mood was sombre, as Shelly’s mother, two brothers, cousins and neighbours watched and waited for the remains to be brought out of the makeshift grave.

Shelly’s mother Elizabeth Lekalakala, said she felt lifeless and distraught.

“This is my fifth child to die. My boy was humble and kept to himself. Why would they do this to him?” she asked, almost close 

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