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Home Crime My son is bookish A-student, says mom of murder suspect

My son is bookish A-student, says mom of murder suspect

Hlabangwane found with body parts in fridge

A jittery Grace Hlabangwane sat apprehensively in her home in White City, Soweto, while painting a picture of her murder accused son. 

If the shock waves from the discovery of body parts in a Protea Glen rented room rippled across the country, the epicentre could be personified in Hlabangwane’s disposition. 

Her son, Flavio Hlabangwane, 26, appeared briefly in the Protea magistrate’s court in Soweto yesterday where he was charged with murder after his new girlfriend found a pair of arms and legs stored in the deep freezer compartment of his fridge. 

Grace, who spoke to Sowetan yesterday from her home, could not conceal the shock and horror she has had to live with since the news of her son’s arrest reached her ears on Saturday afternoon. 

“He called me at around 1pm and said he was being arrested. I asked him why he was being arrested and he said its because of body parts. I did not understand what he was saying and I thought he was saying he was being arrested for being in possession of boarding passes and could not understand what was happening,” said Grace. 

Hlabangwane had arranged a family meeting and was scheduled to see his mother on the day of his arrest to break the news that he had bought a flat and wished for them to see it. 

Grace was thrilled with the news. 

But her excitement was cut short by her son’s phone call. 

An introvert. A recluse. A bookworm. 

These are the adjectives that Grace used to describe her son who has been a bright spark not only in his family, but to his community as well. 

“My son is intelligent. He doesn’t have any friends and I am gobsmacked by what he is being accused of because it’s not like he had any outside influence or peer pressure. On Friday, he wrote his last of 13 exams related to actuarial science,” she explained. 

Her home, located in the bustling, densely populated Soweto township, one of the oldest, has been renovated and extended. 

“This house was a three-roomed house. After he graduated, he extended it by a further five rooms,” said Grace. 

She took the Sowetan team to her son’s room at the back of the house, where Hlabangwane spent his time with his nose in his books. 

Ten best academic achiever trophies were lined up against the wall. 

“He got 100% for maths when he passed matric in 2012. That is in addition to three other distinctions he got. He was a head boy at Immaculata Secondary School. De Beers paid for his Saturday tuition classes from grades 10 to12,” she said. 

According to Grace, her son had told her that he lived in Randburg but she was taken aback when she found out that he was staying in Protea Glen.  

“We didn’t even know where he was living. So we are shocked by everything that is happening right now.”

On Sunday morning, Grace visited her son in hospital where he was admitted after he attempted to take his life.

“He was lying in bed and had his leg bound to the bed while under police guard. He did not see me come in. I just went to him and hugged him from behind. He turned around and hugged me back and cried, saying he was sorry,” said the mother. 

Over the weekend, Hlabangwane’s landlord in Protea Glen told Sowetan that he knew his girlfriend and that he saw her often since he moved into his property in July last year. 

“We knew the girl. We were familiar with her. But we do not know if it was [her] body parts which were found in my son’s rented room. Just like everyone else, we are waiting for the DNA results to confirm who the body parts belong to,” said Grace. 

Police spokesperson Brig Brenda Muridili said the body parts will be sent to the forensic science laboratory for identification.

Grace described her son as humble and quiet, and said that every fibre of her being failed to comprehend the allegations against him. 

Hlabangwane’s matter was postponed to next week for further investigations.

Hlabangwane, who attempted to end his life at the time of his arrest by stabbing himself in the neck with a sharp object, appeared to be slightly confused in court. 

He told the court that he would be acquiring the services of the Legal Aid Board. 

Hlabangwane stared around in the court gallery as if expecting to see a familiar face. However, none of his family members were present.

–Sowetan

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