Battling, but coping

Caroline Lesito's face lit up.

Caroline Lesito's face lit up.

Brenda Fassie's song Memeza was enveloping the tiny kitchen of her two-roomed house in Sharpeville in the Vaal.

"Noma ndingamemeza, akusizi lutho," sangFassie.

Lesito reacted to the words which in IsiZulu mean: "I may cry all I want, but it will be all in vain".

"It feels like the lyrics are speaking to me. Maybe it is not a coincidence that this song should play while talking about Jocelyn," Lesito said.

Her daughter Jocelyn, Victoria Ndweni and Constance Moeletsi were found murdered inside a dry-cleaning depot where they worked.

Festivities to usher in the new year were still continuing on January 3 2006 when the bodies of three young were found stuffed in industrial laundry bins at Protea Dry Cleaners and Laundromat at Three Rivers Vereeniging.

Lesito said this week: "I have finally accepted that she won't come back, but I might find inner peace once the law has taken its course and my daughter's murderers are made to pay."

Three weeks ago, on March 31, Jocelyn would have celebrated her 28th birthday.

"My child stopped laughing long before she died. Her workplace took the joy out of her life and I knew she was miserable. I told her to quit and she said she would after paying her debts."

The last time Lesito saw her daughter alive was when she packed her a meal of ting and mala-mohodu which Lesito had prepared.

"She was in a jovial mood, but did not enjoy her favourite dish because when they were found, their food was intact," she said.

Lesito, 55, was resilient during the interview, but words eluded her when she visited her child's grave with Sowetan. She could only nod her head, battling with her emotions. Then she broke down and cried softly.

Jocelyn - her mother lovingly called her Nunna - had worked at the laundromat for a year and was unhappy about the working conditions.

"She was mobilising her colleagues to join a trade union at the time of her death. I warned her that her passion for human rights would get her killed," she said.

Jocelyn complained that they worked long hours and that their employer, Charl Colyn, locked them in the building during night shift, said her mother.

However daunting her journey to emotional recovery, Lesito said Jocelyn's four-year-old son Keabetsoe made the load somewhat lighter to bear.

"My grandson told his friend that his mother is in heaven with God and would never come back again.

"That, and seeing his happy little face, comforted me," Lesito said.