The exhumation was particularly poignant for Khulumani as its Disappearances Investigator, Dumisani Khumalo, is the brother of Caswell Khumalo, one of the 'Mofolo Three'. It was wonderful to have Dumisani discharged from Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital in time for him to attend the exhumation where he was able as, a result of his extensive information gathering over several years, to provide background information to the gathered family members and to the representatives of the media who attended.
'Enforced disappearances' are recognised in international law as continuing crimes as a result of the unceasing work of family members of the 'disappeared' organised as the Working Group on Enforced Involuntary Disappearances (WGEID) over twenty years at the level of the United Nations.
South Africa has ratified the International Convention on the Protection of All Persons from an Enforced Disappearance, but has yet to domesticate the convention into national legislation. August 30 of each year is honoured as International Day for the Disappeared.
Khulumani looks forward to progress in partnership with the state on addressing each of the disappearances cases documented in its disappearances database that contains some unresolved 6,800 cases of the focibly disappeared.
Exhumation of the remains of Mr Nceba Snuma
The journey that families of those individuals who have disappeared can be a long and painful one. The families of the Mofolo Three yesterday took another step towards seeking closure for their loved ones.
On September11, the Missing Person Task Team conducted a forensic exhumation of a pauper’s grave in Avalon cemetery believed to contain the remains of Nceba Sinuma. The process was completed in the presence of the families of the Mofolo Three, with a Khulumani Support Group’s Zweli Mkeze and Pamela Whitman there to offer support to the families.
Nceba Snuma, Caswell Bheki Khumalo and Richard Ngwenya are known collectively as the Mofolo Three.
They were recruited while operating underground in their unit cell by the Askaris(SOWETO-Intelligence and Security Branch) whom were also operating as
MKHONTO WESIZWE operatives. The Mofolo-3 were assigned to bomb the railway lines between Midway and Kliptown stations. While on their assigned mission they were given zero-timed limpet-mine bombs. Nceba Snuma was fatefully detonated by one of the zero-timed-limpet mine bomb, whereas, Bheki and Richard were murdered by the Askaris when their limpet-mine bombs could not detonate, thereon taken somewhere to Rustenburg and put into a ditch whereat their bodies were burnt.
Madellein Fullard from the Missing Person Task Team Manager at the National Prosecuting authority encouraged the family to approach her with any questions they may have about the day or processes for the future. She advocates strong collaboration between the NPA and the three families, and promised that she will work diligently with the police to be able to find the missing remains of the other two members of the Mofolo Three. The Missing Person’s Task Team’s position is that they would like to honour the group as a whole rather than separately.
Though the final examination of the human remains will report officially whether they are indeed the remains of Nceba Sinuma, what was found in the grave yesterday strongly points to the fact that they may well belong to Nceba. From the information known about Nceba’s death, the post mortem examination of the unknown body in 1989, and the distinctive injuries that a limpet mine would cause to a person, the team yesterday believes they have a strong case to identify Nceba’s body. DNA testing will not be necessary.
Yesterday family members of Nceba included parents Mirriam Thandi Snumo and Skhumbuzo Bramley Snuma. Siblings were Sandile Howard Snuma, Nonathamsanqa Christina Snuma and Nondyebo Cindi. Richards Ngwenya’s father Jacob came for support, as well as Caswell Castro Khumalo’s mother Harriet.
Nondyebo, who is a member of Khulumani Forum Theater Group, was 14 years old when her brother was killed. She remembered him as an intelligent person, and who had generated much hope within the family of going far in his life. She said that when the family was going through his papers after his death, they realized only then that Nceba was hoping to become a journalist one day.
Khulumani’s Zweli Mkize took the opportunity to engage with Cde-commander Gezani about the possibilities of establishing a MOU with the MKMVA representative towards working on disappearances cases, particularly, of those who either died in exile or those who disappeared while inside South Africa. They agreed that no single organization or stakeholder could embark on disappearances issues in isolation of other important stakeholders
Dumisane Khumalo has generated much respect within the circle of people who search for the disappeared. When he arrived at the graveside yesterday, it was obvious the affection people hold for him, as he was warmly greeted by everyone from the different groups. Just having been discharged from hospital, everyone showed concern for his welfare. The media had a lengthy interview with him, and his detailed notes about the events of 1989 helped many of the group to gather a greater understanding of the history of the Mofolo Three.
The overall emotion of the day was that of relief and quiet reflection. Though Nceba had been so unceremoniously buried 23 years ago, the group that gathered at the graveside yesterday paid much honour and respect to a young man who was fighting for the freedom of his country.