Johannesburg – “I loved him. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to kill him,” Sindisiwe Manqele told Nkululeko “Flabba” Habedi’s younger brother, Tshepang, who burst into the room as she sobbed over her dying lover.
“I love you! I love you!” she wailed over the man she is now accused of murdering in the early hours of Monday morning.
“Don’t leave me alone!”
Habedi and Manqele had been dating for more than a year. His family this week described her as more than a girlfriend, and one of them.
“She was bubbly, humble and a beautiful soul who was madly in love with Flabba,” Tshepang said.
But, he told City Press, that now meant nothing because she allegedly stabbed his brother in the heart with a steak knife from his own kitchen.
Habedi is being buried at Westpark Cemetery today after a service at the Alexandra Stadium.
Habedi and Manqele allegedly had a heated argument on Sunday night at a joint birthday party hosted by Habedi’s fellow Skwatta Camp bandmate Lebo “Shugasmakx” Mothibe and record label boss and rapper Thabo “JR” Bogopa.
Tshepang said: “He died in my arms. I tried everything I could to stop him from dying. My cousin Luyanda and I even did CPR [cardiopulmonary resuscitation] on him and tried to stop the bleeding, but it was too late. He bled out.”
Meanwhile, Manqele, who is a student at University College Dublin in Ireland and comes home to South Africa for two weeks at a time up to three times a year, is maintaining her silence about what happened that night and has yet to tell police her side of the story.
A source close to the investigation on Friday said: “Her statement is not available in the police docket. The police have to work on the two witnesses’ statements because that’s the only thing they have right now.
“At the moment, only the defendant’s lawyer has her version of the story. So we’ll have to wait until her lawyer tells the court her side of the story.”
Manqele’s lawyer, Amanda Vilakazi refused to comment, saying: “I’m not allowed to speak to the media at the moment.”
During her appearance in the Alexandra Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday, a heavily bruised Manqele limped into the dock. She showed the court stitches on her left wrist, a stab wound in her stomach and a bruise on her leg.
Although Tshepang’s bedroom is in the same house and less than 10m from his brother’s, he insists he heard no screaming or shouting that night.
“I was asleep when my cousin, Luyanda, woke me up and told me our brother had been stabbed. I quickly jumped out of bed and ran into my brother’s room,” he said, tears dripping off his chin.
“I got the shock of my life when I found him on the floor, lying helpless in a pool of blood. Next to him there was a steak knife. I felt like someone had just woken me up from a dream.”
A disbelieving Tshepang called the paramedics and he, Luyanda and Manqele were crying as they tried to save Habedi.
“Sindisiwe kept on saying my brother was alive, but he was already dead,” he said.
Tshepang then confronted her, demanding to know why she had killed his brother.
“She told me: ‘I’m sorry. It was a mistake. I loved him.’”
It was only later that police told him that Manqele had tried to slit her wrists with a broken beer bottle.
“I’ve been told now she’s saying it was self-defence,” he said.
Manqele spent Monday night in the holding cells of Alexandra Police Station. After court on Tuesday, she was transferred to Johannesburg Prison. City Press went to see her there, but she refused a visit.
Officials at her university declined to comment on any aspect of her life there: “We are not allowed to divulge information about our students. We have to get consent from the party.”
Her father, who is believed to be a senior police officer, has deleted all her social-media accounts.
Habedi’s Instagram page, though, is still filled with pictures of Manqele and his declarations of love for her.
“I love this woman. Gonna take care of her, coz she takes care of this nigga right here,” he said in one caption.
Habedi’s best friend, Nkululeko Chauke, said the couple had argued at the party at The Sands nightclub in Sandton on Sunday night, where Habedi performed. But he says he didn’t know what they were fighting about.
“It was just an argument between two people and I didn’t know it would escalate into this. At some point, the fight stopped and we were all in a jolly mood,” he said.
Before they left the club, he and Habedi even grabbed two bottles of Ciroc Vodka to take home with them.
“We were tipsy and we were having a great time,” he said.
The last time Chauke saw his friend was when he dropped him and Manqele off at home. An hour later, he got a call telling him his friend was dead.
Chauke said Habedi and Manqele were a happy couple and they were inseparable.
“She’s a vivacious person and they both have the same energy. We still can’t make sense of everything,” he said.
Meanwhile, Tshepang said his brother supported the entire family financially. “He was a hustler, a breadwinner to all of us,” he said.
When Habedi’s music career went off the boil, he still supported his family by selling hamburgers, chicken wings and ribs, which he cooked himself at his home in Alexandra.
It was important for him to properly provide for his daughter Lesego (12) and son Tshegofatso (2). Habedi was still married to but separated from Lesego’s mother, Mpho Habedi.
Meanwhile, the slain rap star, Nkululeko “Flabba” Habedi’s daughter, Lesego, gave an emotional tribute to her father during his funeral service at Alexandra Stadium earlier on Sunday.
Habedi was stabbed to death on Monday, allegedly by his girlfriend Sindisiwe Manqele.
Tribute messages have been pouring in since the news broke on Monday, many of them recognising the role Habedi played in growing the hip hop genre in South Africa.
Lesego says she will celebrate her father’s life.
“I know that you’re never going to walk through that door and that makes my heart really, really sore. I’ll just have to be strong for you because I know that’s what you want me to be. Instead of crying and crying, I’d rather be celebrating. For I am celebrating what you’ve done for people you care about…In fact, I thank you for everything you have done for us.”
Habedi’s wife, Mpho, was too distraught to speak and a friend took to the stage to deliver a tribute on her behalf.
Flabba has been laid to rest at Westpark Cemetery in Johannesburg.
Meanwhile, Manqele is expected to appear at the Alexandra Magistrate’s Court on Monday for her bail application hearing.