The family of comedian Trevor Noah was in mourning yesterday after the murder of his 24-year-old cousin.
It was the fourth tragedy to strike women in Noah's family and comes as the comedian prepares to take up his hosting of the popular The Daily Show in the US.
Yesterday, relatives attended the funeral of the murdered teacher, Cebisile Happiness Khoza, in a village near Wasbank in KwaZulu-Natal.
Noah had not been reached by his family as he was travelling overseas.
The latest killing means that three of Noah's female relatives have been murdered.
His mother, Patricia, escaped death six years ago when her former husband - Noah 's former stepfather - shot her three times and left her to die. He also threatened to kill Noah , who paid for his mother's treatment in a private hospital.
Noah's grandmother, Nomalizo Noah, battled to keep her emotions in check yesterday as she spoke about the latest violent death in the family , saying she believed the women in her family were cursed.
Speaking from her home in Orlando East, Soweto, she said the tragedy had brought back sad memories of the death of two other family members. One died from poisoning; the other was beaten to death by attackers.
The elderly woman said she received news of Khoza's death in a phone call from a relative in Pietermaritzburg.
"How do you explain this?" she asked. "It is a curse, I believe the family is cursed."
She said Trevor and the murdered student had not been close as they lived in different provinces, but they knew each other.
Khoza was to have received a postgraduate certificate in education at the University of Free State Qwaqwa campus earlier this month.
The day before the graduation ceremony, she travelled from her home in the small town of Msinga to Greytown, 30km away.
There she visited a salon to have her hair and nails done in preparation for the big day.
But she disappeared and the next day farmworkers stumbled upon her badly burnt body on a sugar cane plantation near the town. She had been stabbed several times.
She had begun writing her mother's cellphone number in the dust before she died.
Khoza had been teaching at Nogida High School in Msinga for only one month and three weeks .
Nogida principal Lindani Ngubane said yesterday that a petrol canister had been found next to her body in the sugar cane.
According to a statement given by her boyfriend, who is a teacher, he had dropped her at the salon and was waiting for her call to fetch her. He tried calling her but got no answer. When he went to the salon, it was closed and she was nowhere to be found.
Police said investigations into the killing were continuing.
Relatives said they would inform Noah when he contacted them. Well known in South Africa for a number of years, he made it big when he was named the successor to Jon Stewart on the TV news satire show The Daily Show. The 31-year-old has since been mingling with international stars and recently attend the Met Gala in New York alongside Hollywood A-listers.
He is due in South Africa this week for a series of farewell shows.
The Sunday Times could not reach Noah yesterday. His publicist in New York, Jill Fritzo, said: "Thank you so much, but I'm sorry he is not available."
Noah's South African publicist, Selebogo Moalusi, said he was "unable to assist with comment as Trevor Noah was abroad".
- Additional reporting by Gabi Mbele and Taschica Pillay