The dead man was pulled from the bottom of the coffin in which he lay: South African police said Wednesday they had launched an "unusual" investigation after the mysterious theft of a corpse from a cemetery.
"The suspect or suspects apparently cut the coffin on the leg side and extracted the body," Motlafela Mojapelo, police spokeswoman for the northern province of Limpopo, told AFP.
On Sunday, a relative of Modike Masedi, who died a year ago at the age of 83, went to the village cemetery to prepare the grave before a ceremony to bring together family and friends.
This relative then discovered that the brick tomb with a black granite stone on top had been opened. A hole had been dug in the side. And the body was gone.
The local police chief, Thembi Hadebe, who said he was "shocked", said in a statement that he had ordered that the grave robbers "be hunted down and brought to justice".
The police also called on the community to remain calm after the incident and not to seek "justice for themselves". No arrests have been made at this stage.