I wish women could vet men, undertaker tells mourners at Sibongiseni Gabada's funeral

Mavis Gabada at the funeral of her granddaughter, Sibongiseni, on June 17 2020.
Mavis Gabada at the funeral of her granddaughter, Sibongiseni, on June 17 2020.
Image: Esa Alexander

The injuries to Sibongiseni Gabada's body left the undertaker traumatised.

Gabada, 36, was buried in Cape Town on Wednesday. Her body was found stuffed in a sports bag outside a shack on May 29 after she had been missing for two weeks.

Sithembele Klaas, whom Gabada’s family described as her boyfriend, has been charged with her murder. He is set to apply for bail in the Khayelitsha magistrate’s court.

Speaking at the funeral, undertaker Nelly Tom urged young women to be “careful of who you are dating”. She said Gabada’s body had been “senselessly violated” and that she wished there were “means to vet men before dating them”.

Tom said: “We received the body from the Tygerberg (Hospital) forensic unit on Monday and things were bad. I cannot over-emphasise it.

Undertaker Nelly Tom warned young women at Sibongiseni Gabada's funeral on June 17 2020 to be careful about who they date.
Undertaker Nelly Tom warned young women at Sibongiseni Gabada's funeral on June 17 2020 to be careful about who they date.
Image: Esa Alexander

“I know her family from church and as a parent, as well, this death touched me. Umzimba wakhe ubumanxebanxeba (her body was deeply scarred). Only God knows who did that to her and why. But my advice to young women is they must know who they are dating, what they do and the places they frequent.

“The scourge of femicide is really bad, our children are dying. In 2005, my sister was raped and killed in Ngqamakhwe, in the Eastern Cape. Her child was one month old at the time and I had to raise her. This has hit me again, in Cape Town this time. This has touched me personally. When I saw Sibongiseni’s body, I was reminded of my own tragedy.”

Though the community did not come out in numbers for the funeral, there were way more than the lockdown limit of 50 mourners and protesters. Women sang an adapted version of the struggle song “Senzeni na?”, adding the words, “amadoda zizinja” (men are dogs).

Gabada’s sister, Nomathamsanqa, said it would take her family a while to come terms with the loss. She said only justice could speed the healing process.

“Sibongiseni was very kind and accommodated everyone,” said Nomathamsanqa. “Her boyfriend has been arrested in connection with her death.

“We don’t know how they met but her friends know him and her body was found next to the boyfriend’s shack. It was stuffed inside a sports bag and covered with pieces of wood and trash. It could be that the perpetrator intended to move the body and discard it elsewhere at a later stage.”

A mourner at Sibongiseni Gabada's funeral on June 17 2020.
A mourner at Sibongiseni Gabada's funeral on June 17 2020.
Image: Esa Alexander

The prosecution provisionally withdrew the charges against Klaas shortly after Gabada’s body was found.

Eric Ntabazalila, the spokesperson for the prosecution in the Western Cape, said at the weekend that prosecutors had “decided to review that decision as a matter of urgency”. On Monday, Klaas’s case was postponed until July 15.

Nomathamsanqa welcomed the development. “That gives us hope,” she said. “We were deeply aggrieved by the decision to withdraw the charges. This man has a lot of explaining to do.

“I am satisfied that he has been rearrested, however I am aware that the road ahead is still lengthy and bumpy. But we will persevere because we need justice for my sister. I hope this is the last time a woman dies like this; in the hands of someone who purportedly loves her.”   

The Western Cape has recorded other murders of women in the past few weeks. As Gabada's funeral was in progress, Mlondi Ntlangulela appeared in Mossel Bay magistrate's courts charged with the murder of Naledi Phangindawo. Ntabazalila said Ntlangulela “abandoned his bail application”. He will be back in court on July 8.

Meanwhile, Kyle Smith is set to appear in the Bellville magistrate's court on July 22 in connection with the murder of a woman and her young daughter.

“He (allegedly) fatally stabbed Altecia Kortje and her daughter, Raynishia Kortje, 7, last Friday in Belhar. The state will oppose this bail application in this scheduled matter,” said Ntabazalila.

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