Will these bones bring closure?

2012-03-24 11:03

We’ve visited too many mortuaries and seen too many unidentified bodies hoping to find Francis.

These are the heart-rending words of Edward Rasuge, the brother of Constable Francis Rasuge, whose body has never been found seven years after her killer, William Nkuna, was sentenced to life imprisonment for her murder.

The discovery of human remains at Nkuna’s house in Temba, Hammanskraal, north of Pretoria, this week has thrust the religious Rasuge family into an unimaginable abyss of confusion, torment and tragedy.

The family has never accepted that their beloved daughter and sister could be dead.

They believe that Nkuna would have taken his secrets to the grave had it not been for construction workers who discovered the grisly find and alerted police.

“Nkuna is the devil himself and I don’t believe he will ever be rehabilitated as he never revealed the truth about Francis,” says her brother.

Since Francis’ disappearance on August 27 2004, the family has lost count of the number of unidentified Jane Does, mortuaries, prisons and people they have visited and met who claimed to have information about the young woman’s whereabouts.

Even the looming reality that within a week’s time DNA tests could prove the bones discovered to be those of Rasuge is not enough to convince them that Francis was killed.

Another family, also in Unit D Temba, claims that their brother, who went missing around the same time as Francis, was last seen with Nkuna, but was never found.

“It could be Francis or it could be the remains of that man. We don’t know. We are confused and it hurts,” says Edward.

Francis’ mother, Caroline, has stopped talking about her daughter as it “always opens old wounds”, she said.

Caroline testified in court that eight months before Francis’ disappearance she telephoned Nkuna asking him why he had threatened to kill her daughter and commit suicide when their relationship became rocky.

Mashadi, Francis’ younger sister, told City Press she was an “emotional wreck” and couldn’t talk to us.

On their dining room table, pictures of Rasuge in her casual clothes are a reminder of the bubbly young woman who had a dream to protect and serve her community.

Next to Francis’ picture is a plaque that reads: “Heal the past, live the present, dream the future”, which has given the family the strength to wake up each day.

Prayer has been the Rasuges’ guiding light over the years, says Edward.

Francis’ father, William, died in December 2010, still hoping that his daughter would return home. “His last words before he died were to tell Francis to bury him when she returned. He never accepted that she died,” says Edward.

At the height of Nkuna’s trial in 2005, William sent a message to Nkuna asking him to tell the truth. Nkuna never responded.

Instead Nkuna, who was popular with police in the Temba township before the murder, absconded and did not pitch for his trial.

When Nkuna handed himself over to police he demanded that he be handed the R500 000 reward that had been offered for information leading to his arrest.

“He is the devil incarnate. Talking to a person like him is like talking to a stone. He plans to take his secrets to his grave,” says Edward.

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