Sunday Times editor Phylicia Oppelt on Monday said she stands by an article stating that comedian Trevor Noah’s cousin was murdered and buried in KwaZulu-Natal at the weekend.
On Sunday night, Trevor Noah tweeted: “Thanks to some crafty journalism my family and I have spent the whole day trying to figure out which one of us died #awkward”.
He later tweeted: “Don’t always believe what you read. This is something I learned from aliens when I travelled to Mars last year.”
“We had several interviews with Mr Noah’s grandmother at her home in Soweto. We attended the funeral in KwaZulu-Natal at the family’s invitation,” Oppelt told News24.
The newspaper reported that Cebisile Happiness Khoza disappeared a day after travelling from her home town of Msinga to Greytown, where she was preparing for a ceremony to receive her postgraduate certificate in education.
Farmworkers found her burnt body in a sugar-cane field in a village near Wasbank. She had been stabbed several times.
According to the article, Nomalizo Noah had been emotional on Saturday when talking about Khoza’s death. She believed the women in her family were cursed.
She reportedly told the Sunday Times she received news of Khoza’s death via a phone call from a relative in Pietermaritzburg.
She was quoted as saying Trevor and the murdered student had not been close as they lived in different provinces, but that they knew each other.
On Monday afternoon, the 88-year-old told News24 she did not know any relatives named Khoza.
She said her children, including Noah’s mother Patricia, had warned her to turn journalists away from her Soweto home.
The comedian had asked his mother to ask her to stop speaking to reporters.
“Tell granny not to talk to all these reporters because they are making news out of nothing,” he had told his mother, she said.