The pupil who never came home
BIG NIGHT: Bongane Skosana, dressed for his matric dance, poses with a friend THOKO Skosana bought a new pair of takkies for her son, Bongane, in March and put them in his room.
“Bongane is coming back and when he arrives I want him to find these takkies,” she told her sister, Annah.
But the Mpumalanga family fears the worst — because the pupil from Kiriyatswane Secondary School in Secunda has been missing since his matric farewell on July 31 last year.
He was among 120 matriculants from his school who booked into the Pavilion Hotel on Durban’s North Beach for their matric festivities. He was last seen leaving the premises at about 2am.
The school had held its matric bash at the Graceland Hotel Casino and Country Club in Secunda on July 28, and followed this with the second leg of festivities in Durban days later. This was also attended by teachers.
Thoko, along with Annah and her husband Abram Aphane, will return to Durban later this month to continue the search.
The family made four trips to Durban between August and December last year, visiting hospitals, mortuaries, police stations, prisons and homeless shelters in the hope of finding Bongane.
They have also visited more than 15 traditional healers in their search for their son and nephew.
Aphane said Thoko had twice tried to take her own life because she could not come to terms with the disappearance of her only child.
“She told the family she doesn’t have a reason to continue living,” he said.
Bongane, 23, had planned to become a policeman or traffic officer after matric.
Aphane said hotel surveillance footage showed that the pupils were drunk on the night Bongane went missing.
“We interviewed hotel staff who told us they [the pupils] almost ran the hotel down. There was no control. Teachers were just in their rooms asleep and these kids were abusing alcohol. There was probably even sex involved as boys were visiting girls in their rooms.
“We are not ruling out the fact that we can find him cold somewhere. If he’s still alive and he’s OK, why doesn’t he call his mother, his girlfriend or myself or my wife?”
He said Bongane had not used Facebook or WhatsApp since his disappearance.
Aphane, who is the principal of King Makhosonke II Secondary School in KwaMhlanga in Mpumalanga, banned the matric dance at his school four years ago because of pupils’ unruly behaviour, which included abusing alcohol.
Mpumalanga education department spokesman Jasper Zwane said an investigation had been launched into Bongane’s disappearance and the behaviour of the teachers at the hotel.