A man who claimed to have been haunted by the spirit of his girlfriend who he murdered more than 20 years ago is now behind bars, serving a life sentence.

Collins Lucky Maduane, now aged 52, cut a lonely figure in the dock as he stood in an almost empty courtroom at the high court in Pretoria this week to be sentenced.

Maduane was 31 years old when he strangled Florah Mahlo to death at his Soshanguve home. She was 25.

On the night of September 3 1999, neighbours had heard Mahlo’s screams coming from Maduane’s home. The next morning when they asked about Mahlo’s whereabouts, he claimed she was away, visiting relatives in Johannesburg.

National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) spokesperson Lumka Mahanjana said “In the year 2000, while Maduane was detained in Bavianspoort Maximum Prison serving a 12-year sentence for attempted murder in another case, he was haunted by Mahlo’s spirit. He then called his sister and confessed”.

He explained in detail how on that fateful night, he had strangled her, then dragged her body to a nearby bush where he set it alight.

Mahanjana said “The following day, he went to where he burnt the body and discovered that it was not completely burnt. he then decided to chop the body into two halves. He chopped the bottom part and threw it in the nearby drain. then buried the remaining parts”.

Seven years after confessing to his sister, Maduane felt the need to also inform Mahlo’s family. He asked to meet her mother but suddenly backed out.

Twelve years later, in 2019, the matter again came up.

“A fight broke out between Maduane and his niece and his sister was called. When the sister arrived, she found that he was still very emotional and uncontrollably angry.

Mahanjana further said “[Maduane’s] sister called a friend and when the friend arrived, she asked why he was always fighting. He asked them to switch off their phones before he spoke. The sister pretended to have switched off her phone and recorded everything”.

“He told them that he was stressed because since Mahlo passed on, she is troubling him. He confessed. He said he wanted to take them to where he killed her.

“After pointing out the places and confessing to the friend and the sister, he requested to meet Mahlo’s mother to confess to her as well. Indeed the mother arrived the following day, he confessed and pointed out as he did to the friend and the sister.”

Maduane, who had previously spent time behind bars for attempted murder, was then rearrested.

Two years later, the court finalised his case – more than two decades after the murder.

“The court believed that Maduane was indeed haunted by the spirit of the deceased because he had successfully evaded justice for years”.

He was handed a life sentence for the murder.