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Sister’s spine-chilling warning to doctor killed in murder-suicide in Limpopo

Times Live logo Times Live 2023/03/31 KHANYISILE NGCOBO
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Dr Mainfred Mphikeleli Shikwambana, 35, and 32-year-old Dr Tshimangadzo Muofhe, were found dead at their home in Thornhill Estate on Monday by a family member. 

Shikwambana was a clinical manager at the Donald Fraser Hospital while Muofhe worked in the obstetrics and gynaecology department at the Pietersburg Hospital.

According to Limpopo police spokesperson Brig Motlafela Mojapelo, an investigation revealed that: "the couple had a fight earlier in the day and in the afternoon the woman was allegedly shot dead by her husband, who thereafter turned the gun on himself”.

The provincial health department joined their families, friends and patients in mourning the two, sharing their devastation and shock at the deaths.

Muofhe's older sister, Dowelani, recalled what happened in the lead-up to her sister's death.

She told TimesLIVE the two were not married but had begun the process to legalise their union.

Their mother was the one to make the devastating discovery at Thornhill Estate.

"My sister came home [from Polokwane to Thohoyandou] on Saturday with her kids. On Sunday we decided to have lunch with my mom because it was my mom's birthday the previous  day," said Dowelani. 

"She had planned to go back to Polokwane on Sunday but got delayed. We came back home late and we advised her that it's better to stay and go back the following day. She could just wake up early in the morning, because from Thohoyandou to Polokwane it's a two-hour drive," she said.

Dowelani explained that her sister had initially not informed Shikwambana of her intention to extend her stay. He apparently tried calling her numerous times and had at one point also tried reaching Dowelani.

He finally got through to her. Dowelani said she heard her sister apologise to Skhikwambana about being unreachable and explain that she would return early on Monday. Dowelani said there was nothing that sounded amiss during that phonecall conversation. 

Muofhe woke up early that Monday. "She woke me up as she was about to leave. I helped her carry her bags to the car. My mom also woke up to say goodbye ... and she left.

"I called her an hour later, she said she just passed Louis Trichardt. She then called when she arrived just after 6.30am. She was supposed to get home, change her clothes and go to work [but] I don't know what happened exactly from there."

Dowelani tried to reach Muofhe later on and when she did not answer, she began to feel anxious.

"I started not feeling good about the situation. My sister is the kind of a person who, if she is busy or at work and can't answer, someone will answer and say she is busy.

"It didn't sit well with me [that she was not answering. I kept on trying to call multiple times and I don't like doing that because if she finds many missed calls, she'll think something is wrong. But my gut just told me that I need to do something I don't usually do."

At around 12 midday, Muofhe finally returned her sister's repeated calls but it was only a brief call. Dowelani said her sister sounded down and evasive when they questioned why she was at home and not at work. Muofhe instead asked to speak to her children, aged two and four. She spoke briefly to the pair before hanging up. 

Still concerned, her family changed tack, using her mother's phone to ring her instead. When this failed to rouse a response, her panicked mother decided to drive to Polokwane to investigate for herself. 

"She called while my mom was on her way to Polokwane but I was busy with the children and missed the call. She then called our mom and spoke to her briefly," said Dowelani, who added that her sister ended the conversation without saying goodbye. 

"When [my mom arrived at their residential complex], she explained [why she was there] to the security guards who then called Tshima [my sister], who didn't pick up. My mom explained she was worried because of what happened and asked that they please let her in. Security refused.

"I don't know how long she waited but eventually they escorted her to the unit. When they got there, the burglar door was open but main door was locked. They knocked and knocked, my mom tried calling but no one was picking up. They decided to break the window and that's when they found her body lying on the floor. His body was lying on the bed.

"Neighbours [apparently had] heard like four, five gunshots. My sister had I think three or four gunshots and all those gunshots were on the head."

The family is troubled what may have transpired in the house prior to the shooting. Dowelani said a 5l bottle containing urine and a cup of coffee were among the things found in the room where the two died.

Asked about the duo's relationship, Dowelani said she didn't know too much about their problems because her sister didn't open up easily. However, she knew they had a troubled relationship - with the two having previously opened domestic violence cases against each other.

Things were so bad, according to Dowelani, that her sister had started looking for a post in another province in an attempt to start afresh elsewhere away from Shikwamabana.

"That morning [before she returned to Polokwane] while I was helping her ... I told her 'this guy is going to end up killing you' and then she said 'do you think he's capable of doing that?' I think she knew he was capable of doing that."

She cited his love of guns as her reason for saying this, claiming that Shikwambana had multiple firearms and "changed guns like he changed underwear". 

Dowelani described her sister as a happy, bubbly person who was memorable to everyone who met her.

"I'll miss everything. All the plans we had together ... I'll miss her raising her children," she fondly recalled.

Shikwambana's family said they were devastated by his untimely death.

"In him, we have lost a jewel and an exemplary young man. Though it is a sad and somber week for the family, we believe that God will help us to pull through and give him a befitting send-off," Thomas Shikwambana told SABC news.

His friends also took to social media to mourn his death to a "great colleague and loyal friend".

"So many things we could say about you my friend, you were one of the best young managers Limpopo had, you contributed greatly to reducing maternal deaths in Vhembe. We wish things were different. No one knew what you were going through or you have gone through, though our hearts are heavy," one friend said.

Memorial services for the duo will be held at their respective hospitals on Friday. Their funerals will be held separately on Sunday.


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