New link to 'Mofolo Three'
AFTER decades of anguish and uncertainty, the family of one of the young Soweto freedom fighters dubbed the "Mofolo Three" is a step closer to finding closure.
Yesterday bones believed to be those of Nceba Sinuma, one of three men killed by apartheid agents in 1989, were exhumed at Avalon Cemetery. Sinuma was buried as a pauper with another person.
Sinuma, Bheki Khumalo and Richard Ngwenya were members of the Soweto Youth Congress and were also involved in underground uMkhonto weSizwe activities.
On July 29 1989, in an operation organised by the Soweto security branch, the trio were approached by askaris posing as MK members and were given limpet mines to place on railway lines across the township.
Sinuma was blown up in Midway and killed immediately by the bomb. Khumalo and Ngwenya were shot by the Askaris when their devices failed to explode. Later that night the two were taken to the Rustenburg area, where they were burnt in a ditch.
Missing Persons Task Team head Madeleine Fullard said the body exhumed yesterday was consistent with someone who died in an explosion.
She said: "His lower limbs and arms are severely severed. It makes sense that he was bowing when the bomb exploded. It was also consistent with TRC, mortuary and cemetery documents."
She said yesterday was the 81st successful exhumation.
Lache Rossouw, a forensic anthropologist, said the body would now be sent to an overseas laboratory for DNA testing with a sample from a family member.
Khumalo's family have never found their son. The Ngwenya's have since recovered Richard's skull, which is still in government safe-keeping.
Sinuma's mother, Miriam, who thought her son was in exile until she heard what had happened to him at the Truth and Reconciliation hearings, said her spirit was now at ease.
The Khumalo family also attended the exhumation.
Khumalo's mother, Harriet, said: "We still want to know where my child's bones are.
"My spirit cannot rest. What I do not understand is how my child's killers received amnesty, but I still do not have his remains."
She said so many things were left unsaid after the TRC hearings.
She remembered the day she heard that her son had died.
"One day I was sitting with my husband when Bheki's younger brother, Bongani, came home and said 'father, you will never see Bheki again. The police killed him'.
"We did not believe him though we read the article he had sourced from a library. He was the kind of person, from a young age, who kept newspaper clippings and he kept investigating his brother's death."
Ngwenya's sister, Thandeka, said: "All we have is our brother's skull. His other remains were lost in government laboratories. At the time the skull was undergoing facial reconstruction to compare it with his ID photo."
She said: "The last time I saw my brother I was eight years old and he was off-loading groceries and talking about going into exile.
"It is difficult when we remember him because we have nothing to hold on to."
She said she would always remember Richard as a big-built man who could mobilise people and be heard.
Fullard said the NPA had a database of about 500 missing people but the TRC files had up to 800 people. She said the ANC had about 1200 people listed as missing in exile.
"These lists and database are not complete," Fullard said.
"Remember that there are people who went missing at the hands of security police, while others died in IFP and ANC clashes and were buried as paupers. Yet more died in exile. - firstname.lastname@example.org