A South African man who once claimed he was kidnapped and forced to work as a white slave appears to have been stoned to death, police said.
Happy Sindane’s body was found Monday on a village roadside about 80 miles northeast of Johannesburg. The 28-year-old was surrounded by stones and had injuries on his head consistent with a stoning, The Independent reported.
“It seems he had been stoned to death, but post-mortem results have yet to confirm that,” said provincial police spokesman Col. Leonard Hlathi.
Police pleaded Tuesday for witnesses to come forward in the case.
A cousin told the Pretoria News that he had last seen Sindane on Thursday.
“I went to identify his body,” he continued. “His head was badly hurt. The rest of his body seemed unharmed.”
Those who knew Sindane said he had been living with a cousin and relatives of his former foster mother, the Pretoria News said.
His mysterious death only highlights the bizarre life that first captured the world’s attention 10 years ago.
Sindane, then thought to be 16, told police he was being kept as a slave in a black community. According to him, he was abducted from his family at age 4 and forced to work and live outside.
Sindane appealed for help in finding his birth parents. DNA tests later found that he was actually a couple of years older. His real name was Abbey Mzayiya, the son of a white father and black mother.
His mom, identified as a black domestic worker, had given him up to live with another black family — the Sindanes — who agreed to take him in.
The family denied they abused him. His former foster mother died a few years before Sindane went to police.
Those familiar with his case in South Africa noted the tragedy that seemed to hang over Sindane’s short life.
“It’s almost as if Happy was cursed,” one person tweeted. “One tragic event after another. Then this.”