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Post - 2021-07-21

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‘My son died with a part of me’

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NOKUTHULA MABUZA nokuthula.mabuza@inl.co.za

LAST Monday night, Lindiswa Caluza could not sleep. Her son, Sandile Caluza, 18, was missing amid the violence that had swept through Durban. Earlier that day, around midday, Caluza had gone to see his friends who lived in the area. The eldest of three siblings, he was a Grade 11 pupil at Inanda Secondary School. He was also the family’s hope of a better life. By the time darkness fell, her son still hadn’t returned home, and Caluza, who lives in Inanda, tried calling him. His cellphone went unanswered. She then tried calling his friends. They confirmed he had spent time with them that afternoon but said he had left for home at around 8pm. For the next few days, Caluza spent her time trying to find her son. By the end of the week, community members suggested she go to the Phoenix mortuary where the bodies of several unknown people were being kept. “On Friday, my sister and I went to the mortuary. I kept praying that I would find Sandile and that he would be alive. But I found his body in the mortuary. It had been lying there for days without me knowing. “His body was bruised. There were stab wounds and a gunshot wound on his back. I fainted. I kept thinking: ‘Why my innocent boy? Why not me?’ I still cannot believe it. He died with a part of me. I have been numb since I found his body. I lost my only boy.” Caluza said none of the workers could explain what had happened to her son. All she was told was that his body was found with several other bodies after the situation in Phoenix had somewhat stabilised. Caluza said there was no way her son would have been involved in the looting. “I raised my son to be a God-fearing young man. He was not violent or a criminal. He would not have stolen. If he had joined people who were stealing, his friends would have been there too. He would not have been alone. “In my gut, I know something happened to him. He was probably attacked while he was on his way home because they were attacking any black person they saw. Or, they drove with him to Phoenix. I don’t even know how he ended up in Phoenix by himself. “My son was a focused boy. He was getting good grades and wanted to enrol to study sports management at a university. You would never hear community members saying anything negative about him. People often reminded me of how lucky I was to have such a focused child. He was the first-born and he carried our family’s hope for a better future. “Sandile always spoke about how he would make life easier for us once he started working. He had big dreams and all of that is now gone. His siblings are still young and seeing them lose their older brother has been hard.” Caluza said she and her husband were unemployed. Sandile will be buried this weekend. Meanwhile, in another incident, Thandanani Mabanga, the ward 1 councillor for Inanda and Ntuzuma, said he assisted a family whose father was found burnt in Phoenix. He said Pat Mntambo, 54, of Ntuzuma, was reported missing on Monday. His body was later found in the Phoenix mortuary. “His daughter, Hlengiwe Mntambo, called me last Wednesday night when her dad did not return home on Monday. She told me he left home at around 9pm in his taxi along with two other companions. One of them was his conductor who lives in Phoenix. “From what we have heard, they wanted to fill petrol when they were stopped at a roadblock. We were told a group of men who were patrolling the area threw stones at the taxi. The vehicle overturned as they tried to flee. “The occupants were pulled out of the taxi and beaten with bricks and golf sticks.” Mntambo and the conductor were killed while the third occupant escaped. Mabanga said he took to social media in an effort to find Mntambo. “On Thursday morning, I drove to Phoenix in an attempt to find him. I also told his family to look in hospitals and mortuaries. They were scared to go to the hospitals because the roads were blocked, so they went to the Phoenix mortuary. His daughter said his body was burnt and that he had a gunshot wound to his stomach. We are not sure if the conductor was found.” He said other families were trying to find relatives that were reported missing. “I receive phone calls almost every day from people looking for their loved ones since the commotion.” He urged both Indian and black people to mend relationships and fight the “evil spirits” that were separating them. Mntambo will be buried at his home in Ntuzuma on Saturday.

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