August 30 is International Day of the Disappeared. Only thirteen countries have ratified the Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance; twenty are needed to bring it into force. Among those which have not yet signed are the United States and the United Kingdom. I picked up the Blog of a South African Blogger (Roy Jobson -http://www.thoughtleader.co.za/royjobson/2009/08/30/the-smell-of-human-flesh-and-hair-burning/) Who in the context of this quest for ratification from us, speaks to the horrific murder of one of the 55,000 “disappeared” of apartheid era South Africa.
Sizwe Kondile’s enforced disappearance , cannot be forgotten. This is a “we shall not forget- so it will never happen again” moment, at the very least.
Jobson reports “His body was burned in the veld (field) on an open fire while Nofomela, his colleague, Dirk Coetzee and others involved had a braai (barbeque) nearby. This was reportedly accompanied by a fair amount of liquid refreshment. Kondile’s body took about seven to nine hours including fairly frequent rotating to burn right through. Whatever was left (and it must have included the bones) was then thrown into the nearby Komati river. The perpetrators would probably have had to macerate parts of the remains.”
Kondile’s mother, testified at a TRC hearing that she first learned of her son’s gruesome death in a newspaper report. “ Butana Almond Nofomela is about to be paroled after having served 21 years for the murder of a local farmer. He had been sentenced to death for this crime, but escaped being hanged by confessing to crimes committed as part of the Vlakplaas hit squad. He was subsequently granted amnesty by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) for ‘assassinating ‘ Sizwe Kondile who was apparently so severely brain injured after being interrogated that he was then poisoned, and shot when he did not die.
Jobson is explicit in his hope for retribution albeit mere one of conscience on the part of the murderer, as he implores:-
“does Nofomela ever smell human flesh and hair burning when he remembers his past, or sometimes in his dreams as he sleeps? Perhaps he has eliminated this memory. Once he’s been released and attends a braai with his family and friends, will he have flashbacks? Will the pungent aroma of burning human flesh and hair assault his nostrils again? Would he remember the feel of the charred remains as the leftover bits were disposed of in the river?”
So this US citizen is asking the question why have we not ratified this Convention when all it will cost us is a little bit of our own reflection when we promise “never again?”