Elderly man takes own life after wife’s death

The spirit and heart of Eric Nda-ba (81), a parishioner of the Anglican church in Soweto, were filled with so much sadness and sorrow following the death of his wife, Esther Ndaba (80), that a week later, after her burial, he ended his own life.

Ndaba doused himself with petrol and set himself alight, according to the testimony of relatives. The gory details of his death last Saturday evening at his Mzimhlophe home in Soweto, seven days after her burial at the Westpark cemetery in Johannesburg, were pieced together by the late Esther’s brother, Marcus Mahuma of Orlando East, Soweto.

In an exclusive interview with Sunday World, Mahuma said he was alerted of Ndaba’s horrifying death by his grandson, Phandelani Thasa on Saturday morning.

Young Thasa went to Ndaba’s house and on arrival, he found the perimeter gates locked.

Mahuma, relating the sordid story, said: “My grandchild Phandelani said that on arriving at Ndaba’s house, he found the gates locked. When there was no response to his knocking on the gate, he scaled the fence, recognising that there were plumes of black smoke billowing from the front side of the house.

“He phoned me and said, ‘Grandpa Ndaba is not opening the door, and my knocking on the door is not attracting any response’.”

Mahuma said that on receiving the news, he drove to the scene of horror, and the neighbours forced open the locked front door, and to his shock, they found Ndaba sprawled on the ground between the threshold of the bedroom and dining room.

“I immediately rang up the police and paramedics, who, on arrival, certified my sister’s husband dead. I think this is suicide; there was no sign of any force applied, so one can come to one conclusion, which is that there was no foul play.

“I know my sister’s death has in a fundamental way broken her husband’s heart and being. He was deeply hurt by it and, as a result, became deeply depressed, and this is what I observed right at the time when my sister died two weeks ago.

“Life throws at us these unbearable episodes. I felt sad about my sister’s illness, which led to her death. And I now feel sadder about this indescribable tragedy of her husband’s death, even before I had recovered from my sister’s passing,” said Mahuma.

Holding back tears, Nda-ba’s- son, Bheki, said: “We have in the last seven days, buried my mother; now, before we could heal, the family must face this tragedy of losing our father in such horrible circumstances.

“I did not expect things to turn this way – that my dad would make such a final and heartbreaking decision to take his own life. Whatever we did that might have caused him grief, we ask for his forgiveness. Even if we might have had differen-ces, this surely should not have called for this drastic decision to end his life. I am overwhelmed by his death,” said Bheki.

Gauteng police Spokesperson Captain Mavela Masondo confirmed that the police were called to the scene of the tragedy soon after the suspected suicide.

“On Saturday, March 23, 2024, [the] police were called to the scene of a person who burned in Mzimhlophe.

“On arrival, [the] police found paramedics already at the scene, and they were shown the body of a man with burn wounds in the bedroom.

“Preliminary investigation suggests the deceased was staying alone in the house, and the circumstances that led to his burning are being investigated by the police.

“A case of inquest has been opened at the Meadowlands police station,” said Masondo.

Ndaba was buried yesterday at the Westpark cemetery.

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