ISSUES AT STAKE: Missing student case highlights anomalies

Mbali Gumede is still missing

Those who had children go missing know the sinking feeling of despair that seizes them.

The mouth dries up and tears refuse to flow, even as hope begins to fade.

Words fail and family simply stare at each other as questions linger in the space between them.

It is in that heavy silence that the reality of what might have happened takes shape – feelings of guilt, self-loathing, suspicion and finger-pointing begin to fill the emptiness.

In times like these the aggrieved live in disbelief.

Such is what the Gumede family must be going through since their daughter, Mbali, went missing on 5 June.
Mbali’s story is tragic on many levels.

Everyone knows that the majority of students who study at the University of Zululand come from struggling families.

So dire is their situation that many fall along the wayside, their dreams of achievement shattered.

That she disappeared just after graduating robs hundreds of others of the inspiration she was, because hers was a message that loudly said: ‘It’s not your background, but your substance that matters’.

Mbali was too young at 23 to vanish in the manner she did when everyone hopes and prays for the emancipation of women.

Hard work

Hers is a story of a rough diamond whose eventual shine symbolises the hard work of the lecturers and the support staff in difficult situations.

Mbali was to be counted among many luminaries that the University of Zululand has produced since its inception in 1969.

Among many things, Mbali’s sad story highlights the anomalies that still characterise South Africa.

Except for the Zululand Observer which has kept her story alive, the mainstream media seems to have not picked up the story.

Unlike the outrage that followed the disappearance of Leigh Matthews in 2004 for example, there seems to be a deafening silence on Mbali.

Instead of unleashing a super cop such as the late Piet Byleveld to investigate and solve the mystery, Mbali’s case is left to sometimes overstretched, overworked and under-resourced local policemen.

The Gumede family, like many poor families in remote areas of the country who find themslves in the same situation, deserve better.

We must remember that the person(s) who caused Mbali’s disappearance will strike again, unless justice is served.

As such, the resources of this country which come from the sweat and blood of the overburdened taxpayer must be utilised equitably.

It is in that spirit that all those who have demonstrated compassion to the Gumede family should be commended.


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