Pretoria - The family of former uMkhonto we Sizwe operative, Nokuthula Simelane, has won its first bid for her to be declared presumed dead following her disappearance 36-years ago while captured by the apartheid police.
The North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria on Thursday agreed with the Simelane family application that they have provided the court with enough evidence showing that Nokuthula was no longer alive since being captured by the apartheid police outside the Carlton Centre in Joburg in 1993.
In her preliminary order, Judge Elizabeth Mamoloko Kubushi ordered that the application for the presumption of death gazetted in the government gazette and various newspapers in the country for a period of 15-days.
Judge Kubushi said this would enable those who are opposed to the application to come forward and submit new evidence in court but she was adamant that the evidence placed before her, has shown that Simelane was no longer alive.
The order stated if there is no opposition to the application within the prescribed 15 days, a final order of presumption of death will be made on August 8, 2019.
The Judge made the preliminary ruling after Simelane’s counsel Adv Howard Varney detailed efforts made by the family to trace her including testifying before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the Amnesty Committee in 1997 and 1998 respectively.
“Nokuthula was abducted in September 1993 in what was known as Operation Kopdraai. As an ANC operative, the apartheid security branch officers wanted to turn her into an informer.
“The black officers testified before the TRC that Nokuthula was severely beaten until she could not walk on her own. She was beaten until she urinated and soiled herself,” Adv Varney said.
He said the white officers denied any involvement in the brutal attack but only admitted to kidnapping her outside the Carlton Centre.
Adv Varney also told the court about the family trauma of having made countless failed efforts to force the law enforcement agencies to probe the murder includig appointing two private investigators to assist them in their mission to locate her but all in vain.
After the court judgment, Nokuthula’s sister Polokwane Mayor Thembi Nkadimeng she a tear following their initial victory.
“I will get closure now,” she said.
She also recounted her family pain since the disappearance saying “My mother is 79-years old. She is not well ever since my sister’s disappearance. I lost my brother in 2015 and my father two years ago. Both left without knowing the circumstances that led to my sister’s disappearance.
“I think this ruling will give us closure,” Nkadimeng said.
Their application was not opposed.