Pinetown mortuary, where Mr Rendeiro's body will be autopsied on Monday. Photo: Luís Fonseca/ Lusa

João Rendeiro’s death: honorary consul formally identifies body

Elias de Sousa “left mortuary looking upset”

Portugal’s honorary consul in Durban, Elias de Sousa, had the unenviable task today of formally identifying the body of João Rendeiro, the ‘former fugitive from justice’ whose body was discovered hours before a new court hearing.

Says SIC, Mr de Sousa left the Pinetown medico-legal mortuary in the company of his wife, looking upset.

His only words to assembled reporters were “I confirm”, with regard to the body being that of Mr Rendeiro.

An autopsy will take place on Monday to determine the exact circumstances of death (understood to have been suicide by hanging).

SIC explains that very little has appeared in the South African press about Mr Rendeiro’s death. 

“Contrary to what is happening in Portugal, the matter is off the media radar”, says the station. “There are a few articles on internet portals on “the fugitive Portuguese banker who died in jail” but it didn’t make the front pages in the kiosks of Durban this morning”.

Prison services at Westville Prison have however confirmed that there was no involvement of third parties. João Rendeiro had been moved from his overcrowded cell to a ‘holding cell’, awaiting transportation to Verulam court yesterday morning. He was found dead in that cell on Thursday night, says SIC.

Singabakho Nxumalo, a spokesperson for South Africa’s prison services, explains: “he was in a single cell when he hung himself. It was after he had been locked in, so no one could have been involved, or could have had access to him”.

In Portugal this morning, tabloid front pages described João Rendeiro’s ‘desperation’. He died “alone in jail, without his fortune, friends and wife”.

All reports concede that the fact that his defence counsel was withdrawing from the case (due to João Rendeiro’s inability to pay her fees) will have added to his sense of desperation.

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