A Daughter is Dead! By Thandi Mkhatshwa, The Amazwi Blogger

A Daughter is Dead!

By Thandi Mkhatshwa, The Amazwi Blogger

Published on Sat, Sep 20 2008 by Thandi Mkhatshwa
Lucas Nkuna from River Sand village in Timbavati, South Africa is shocked at the sudden death of his beloved daughter. “I am hurting so much right now, and I don’t think the pain will ever go away,” he said, sitting on a chair in front of his house and shaking his head. On the ground under the chair, a child’s sandals lay.
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Mpumelelo Nkuna’s life ended in vain at the age of nineteen. She was found dead early Tuesday morning, 21 July 2008, after she has been missing for two days. Her lifeless body was discovered hidden in the bushes at Marhomeni, a nearby village. Mpumelelo was stabbed to death in the ribs and deep into her lungs with a sharp, unidentified object.
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"After she didn’t come home on Sunday and Monday, I went to the police station on Tuesday to report her missing, but they told me to go check for her at her friends’ houses. She wasn’t with any of them,” Nkuna explained in a soft, sad tone. His eyes locked onto a group of schoolgirls in uniform in Magwagwaza High School’s playground, who stood chatting and laughing. It is the school which his deceased daughter had attended. She was in Grade 10. “On the same day, my daughter-in-law called me and told me there were rumors that the police had found a dead girl in some bushes. I decided to go to the police again, and they told me to go to Elite Funeral Parlor to identify the body. I saw her, my own daughter, laying there, dead.”
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After a few seconds, a baby cried from within Nkuna’s house, interrupting his talk. It was the deceased’s two-year-old son waking up from his sleep. “Who is going to take care of him now? My wife is ill, and I am struggling enough as it is to make ends meet,” he said, now holding the baby close to his chest with his hand brushing the baby’s back. “When my daughter was pregnant with him, she refused to tell us who the father was. We just learned recently who he was when she wanted to sue him for child support. I advised her not to do it because it was too late, and too deadly, but she didn’t listen.”
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Nkuna discovered that the child’s father was none other than his good neighbor, David Mthobothi, who lives a block away. David and Mr. Nkuna also attend the same church. But now, not only is David the father of Mpumelelo’s child, but also, as the family claims, possibly her murderer too. “The day Mpumelelo disappeared, David didn’t even come to church, and he had never missed a day of church before. This time it was different. It was because he was out all day stalking my daughter,” Nkuna said, standing up and feeding the child an apple.
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“I didn’t believe she was dead, until a saw a tent at her house,” said Dick Monareng, Mpumelelo’s cousin, and also her very best friend who she confided all her troubles in. “Mpumelelo complained to me every time about what David was doing to her, but she never told her father. She thought he wouldn’t believe her because her father and David were friends. And I never told my uncle about this because she begged me never to tell anyone, especially him,” he explained in front of his uncle. “The first time it happened, Mpumelelo was just fourteen years old. David called her to his house and asked her to wash his dishes; after she was done, he pushed her into his bedroom and raped her, gave her money to keep her silent, and threaded to kill her or anyone she told. It’s been happening ever since, and he eventually impregnated her.”
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Like Mr. Nkuna, Monareng, too, believes that it was David who took his best friend’s life. He also explained that when Mpumelelo sued David for child support, he was allegedly not a happy man. He threatened Mpumelelo again, demanding that she stop. But eventually, he managed to get through to her. David was able to pull this off by bribing her with R400, and also promised to give her more every month for her silence. “I advised her not to accept the money, but she didn’t listen, and said she badly needed the cash,” Monareng continued. “He manipulated her because she was young and naive. He was planning to kill her all along to keep her quiet because he knew he would get into trouble.”
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Captain Mapanga at the Acornhoek Police station said that the case is still under investigation, and they haven’t made any arrests yet. “There is no evidence suggesting who the killer could be, but we do think that it is probably a man who killed her. We need every bit of information we can get to solve the case.”
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Thandi Mkhatshwa is a reporter with The Amazwi Villager, a newspaper written by rural African female journalists of Sotho and Shangaan descent and distributed in their home communities within the lowveld region of South Africa. Amazwi, a non-profit organization, publishes the Villager monthly. To read more, visit: www.amazwivillager.org

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