The pupil who never came home

Sunday Times - - NEWS - PREGA GOVENDER

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.

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