Who killed Thembisile Yende, and whose fault was it that she was found dead at a substation in Springs, east of Joburg?
This the unsolved riddle as the Yende family seeks justice while Eskom disowns culpability for the loss of life.
Yende’s body was found in an office at the Pieterboth substation with her head covered in a black plastic bag in May 2017, almost two weeks after she went missing.
Her colleague David Ngwenya was arrested in connection with the crime.
It was alleged that Yende was going to expose Ngwenya for illegal copper deals. But the case was provisionally withdrawn last year due to lack of evidence.
In response to the Yende family’s questions, Eskom washed its hand of the gruesome crime.
“Thembisile had been instructed not to work unsupervised and not to report at Pieterboth substation,” read its response.
Meanwhile, the bereaved mother, Nester Yende, lamented the lack of answers, her pain palpable.
In her last ditch effort to get justice, the 55-year-old mother said she turned to President Cyril Ramaphosa and the SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) for help.
But Presidency spokesperson Khusela Diko said the office was not aware of the plea for help, while SAHRC spokesperson Gail Smith said the commission was monitoring developments in the case.
Thembisile’s mother said she had been met with silence since the case was provisionally withdrawn.
“Eskom never said anything to me after the case was withdrawn last year. The last time I spoke to them was last year when they sent me a memorandum responding to my questions.
“Then they promoted their investigative officer, who was supposed to lead this case and brought in other people to investigate. This shows that Eskom is willing to delay this matter because these two (investigators) were recently appointed in March,” she said.
“Actually, Eskom denied everything. They said my daughter got killed because of her fault, and I must ask the Germiston grid.”
Spokesperson Khulu Phasiwe did not respond to the Sunday Independent’s questions, saying investigations were being done by the police.
The heartbroken mother also hit out at the criminal justice system for allegedly failing the family.
“The witness told them everything, and they even believed he took part in the murder because he was an inyanga (traditional healer) who was cleansing the alleged killer. But everything just disappeared.
“I am really tired of this justice system. They are not doing enough to hold Eskom accountable because it is a government entity,” she said, while also alleging money changed hands.
In response, National Prosecuting Authority spokesperson Phindi Mjonondwane said the NPA was awaiting the docket “so as to give an update on the matter”.
ABOUT THEMBISILE YENDE’S DEATH:
Thembisile Yende’s body was found in an office at Eskom’s Pieterboth substation in May 2017, two weeks after her disappearance. Yende, pictured, was last seen on May 17, 2017, about 6am, after leaving her Springs home for work in her company-issued vehicle.
A week before police discovered the body, her company car was found during a search at the substation. At the time, police spokesperson Sergeant Harry Manaka said the body was found after employees cited a pungent smell coming from the corridors.
Manaka said employees then called the police who came and broke down the door of Yende’s office. He said the decomposing body was found under the desk, wrapped in a black bag.
Manaka pointed out that the police were informed that CCTV cameras had not been working for some time. Yende’s partner Paseka Modise questioned why cameras were not working, considering that she worked alone.
Modise also revealed that Yende had to open and close the gate with a padlock as it did not have a motor. He added that the gate was only fixed after the case of a missing person (Yende) was opened.
According to Eskom, Yende was working a night shift on a remote side of the power station at the time of her disappearance. The utility denied claims by Manaka and Modise that cameras were not working for some time when Yende went missing. At the time, spokesperson Khulu Phasiwe said CCTV cameras were working and Yende was seen on the system when she arrived, but disappeared shortly after that. Manyane Manyane