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Eudy's dream denied

By unknown | May 14, 2008 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

Bruce Fraser

Bruce Fraser

Hanging on the wall of the living room of house number 1008 in Tornado Section, KwaThema, is a large calendar with May 5 heavily circled in a green felt-tip pen.

For many South Africans Monday May 5 was the first day back at work after a four-day long weekend. For Eudy Simelane it was particularly significant. This was the day she was to start work at her dream job as a merchandiser for a pharmaceutical company in Pretoria.

After years of doing odd jobs, life was finally starting to look up. A permanent job, regular income, medical aid, security for her family - her prayers had been answered.

Tragically, her body was found lying face down in a shallow river less than 200 metres from her home. Gang-raped, repeatedly stabbed, Simelane was tossed aside like a rag doll to spend her final moments alone.

Growing up in KwaThema she was different from other girls.

"When she was a child we used to buy her dolls to play with, but she wasn't interested. All she wanted was a ball to kick around," said her mother Mally.

Plunged into an abyss of despair the family are struggling to make sense of the death of their only daughter.

Like so many South African families they are battling the demons of losing a loved one. The sleepless nights, endless tears and the question that keeps nagging in the back of their minds: "Why did this happen to us?"

The Simelanes are obviously a very close-knit family. Married for 35 years, Mally and Khotso constantly reassured each other throughout the interview with a hug here, a squeeze there, a glance that reflected pain.

They are also immensely proud of what their daughter achieved in her short life. "She did well at school getting her matric and after that her N6, but it was soccer she loved. Even in primary school she excelled at soccer."

Awards, pictures and mementoes from her playing days are scattered around the lounge, with pride of place being her team picture when she represented the national women's side.

Her family never saw her compete overseas, but they regularly attended local games.

"She spent her 21st birthday on a plane flying to Morocco for a tournament. If she was playing locally we used to watch her and take her food," said Mally.

On the Monday Simelane's body was found, her mother was on her way to her mother's house nearby. She received a call from a neighbour. "Mally, come home quickly." She returned home immediately.

"Outside I saw several policemen. A sergeant said: 'Mummy, we have a sad, sad, sad story to tell you.'

"I said 'what?'

"Your daughter is late."

"I didn't get a fright because I knew my Eudy was still alive. They then took me and my son Emmanual to the murder scene. When we got there people were standing around. I tried to get out of the police car but I fainted. Emmanual went to see the body. When he returned he said: 'Ma, it's my sister.' I fainted again."

By the time the police took the family home a crowd had gathered outside their house.

"I sent someone to call my husband. I saw him running down the street screaming: 'My child, my child, they've killed my child'."

Her daughter has been buried for two weeks but Mally feels as if she will walk into the house at any time.

"I can see her coming in through the door and going to the kitchen and making a sandwich. 'Ma, can I make you something?' she would shout. Then she would sit down and put on some music. Reggae was her favourite - particularly Bob Marley and Lucky Dube. She cried terribly when Lucky Dube was gunned down and questioned the violence in this country."

Eudy's parents are undergoing counselling and are on medication. It obviously pains them that the people arrested for the senseless killing knew their daughter, but they are prepared to let justice run its course.

"Hopefully the reasons behind the murder will come out during the court hearing," Mally said.

At the time of her death, Eudy Simelane had found some happiness in her life. She was in a stable, happy relationship.

"My daughter was happy. She got on very well with her partner," said Mally.

It was no secret that Simelane was a lesbian and her parents accepted this from an early age. "We didn't have a choice. After all she was our daughter."

After hanging up her boots as a player Simelane still remained closely associated with soccer.

At the time of her death she was involved in the coaching and administration of four teams in the KwaThema area and was studying to become a referee.

Her love for her community was clearly visible and their love and respect for her shone through when close to 2 000 people attended her funeral.

"I've never seen so many people at a funeral," said her mother. "Team-mates from all over the country paid their respects."

Simelane was actively involved in HIV-Aids counselling and also took it upon herself to make sure handicapped people had food and clothing.

"She even used to wash them and cut their nails," said her mother.

Though by no means well off, Simelane was sponsoring a final-year student at the University of Johannesburg.

After the boy lost his mother in 2002, she took it upon herself to make sure he had someone to turn to in need and ensured he was taken care of financially.

Throughout the interview with the Simelanes, Eudy's father, Khotso, seldom spoke. He sat in a chair rocking back and forth, his hands tightly clasped in front of him. As we were about to leave he leaned forward and looked me directly in the eye, his own eyes red and swollen from heartache, and said: "I miss my little girl so badly. I'm lost, but I know she is sleeping."

l To view a video of this interview log on to


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