'That was no suicide!' Death of Mantuli's 'lover' haunts mother of his son
THE late Soweto-based charmer Phinda Thomo, who allegedly had an adulterous affair with President Jacob Zuma's wife MaNtuli while he was her bodyguard, might have been killed.
This is the feeling troubling Lerato Shabangu, the mother of Thomo's eight-year-old son, since her lover's death three years ago.
Shabangu broke her silence to Sunday World this week, three years after the father of her only son died.
"That he committed suicide doesn't make sense to me. I suspect foul play," she says.
Thomo allegedly shot himself once in the head after learning that a local Durban newspaper was working on a story about his alleged affair with MaNtuli.
His body was found in the bathtub of his rented Emndeni house in Soweto in 2009.
In an exclusive interview with Sunday World, Shabangu says Thomo, who was renting a house in the Soweto suburb, came to her parents' home in Orlando on Thursday, the day before his untimely death.
She says he dropped off some money for their son's maintenance.
"On the very same Thursday night, he phoned me and asked me to pack an overnight bag for our son because he wanted to fetch him the following day (Friday) so he could spend the weekend with him.
"He sounded very happy on the phone," she says.
Shabangu further states that Thomo also told her on the phone that he had bought a few bottles of wine and wanted to celebrate his victory against tuberculosis.
"He had just completed the treatment and he was so happy to have beaten the disease. He also told me that he was happy because he was about to reunite with his other child, who was born before my son.
"So when I received a call the following day that he had killed himself, I couldn't believe it.
"It just didn't make sense," she says with a sad and distant look in her eyes.
Lerato says that what stunned her most was that Thomo didn't even leave behind a suicide note.
"He loved his son so much. If he had indeed planned to take his own life he would have come to say goodbye to our son," she says.
Lerato says what boggles her mind is that Thomo was found with a gun in his hand after shooting himself in the head.
"The gun should have fallen to the ground afterwards but he was found still holding it in his hand.
"Another thing is that he covered the bath tub with a towel before filling it with water. Why would he do that?
"They found the door to his house locked and the key placed on a window sill and the window was half-opened," she says about her suspicions.
"Phinda was happy. He had gone through a lot of things in life before that could have driven him to commit suicide but he didn't. Some years back he suffered from a cancer-like disease and moved from one sangoma to another looking for a cure.
"It would have been understandable if he had committed suicide then. That he killed himself does not make sense to me.
"He loved life and women loved him. He was a ladies man," she says.
Thomo's other baby's mama, known only as Pinky, declined to speak to Sunday World.
"I was advised not say a word about this matter," she says.
Police spokesperson Kay Makhubela says Shabangu should go to the Dobsonville police station and speak to the branch commander if she has any vital information concerning the case.