‘The most terrible journey’

2008-01-22 00:00

That is how Mark Hume, husband of murdered estate agent Lynne Hume, has described the traumatic events that culminated last week in the positive identification by DNA of his wife’s remains.

In an exclusive interview with The Witness yesterday, Hume said that he and his two daughters, Kirsty and Samantha, are slowly coming to terms with the death of their beloved wife and mother, allegedly at the hands of IT specialist Muziwendoda Kunene and other accomplices.

Hume said that the alleged involvement of Kunene in the murder came as a huge surprise. "He was the last person we thought of as a suspect initially." He said that on the fateful Tuesday (October 23, 2007) she disappeared, Lynne had told him that she was meeting Kunene.

"She had done an unprecedented deal with him, to the tune of over R600 000. It had been signed, but then he said there were problems. Lynne was not concerned at all because he had lived up to his word at each step of the deal thus far."

And then she disappeared and the smses started coming from Lynne’s phone, telling her puzzled family that she had taken off on her own for a while.

Hume said that in the days preceding her disappearance, Lynne had indicated that she wanted some time to herself to think about some things.

"Our youngest daughter was due to leave home, and there were all the anxieties that accompany the so-called ‘empty nest syndrome’. We had also started a new business in Ballito, which was running on a tight schedule and that was also stressful. So we knew she wanted some time out, but it was out of character for her to leave abruptly without saying goodbye. We thought that she may have gone off to a health hydro."

Then, before Lynne had been missing for 24 hours, they discovered that her burnt-out car had been found near Kestell in the Free State and that a body had been found inside it.

"I am not sure exactly when it became apparent that Kunene was a suspect. The police obviously wanted to know who the last person was who had seen her." Hume said that he wasted no time contacting private investigators after their services were recommended by a friend.

He said that the investigators got a jump on the case after it was found that a cheque had been cashed from Lynne’s bank account in Pietermaritzburg and they were able to identify some of the suspects. "Then we knew who we were looking for." Three suspects, including Kunene, have been arrested, said Hume.

"I was really impressed with the work of the police, but they were operating from two centres, Phuthaditjhaba and Durban, and so there was an element of disjointedness. The PIs knew the policemen and they worked together well." By the Wednesday, the PI had taken DNA samples from the remains in the car.

Hume said that after widespread media attention on the case, it was decided that a media blackout should be imposed so that the case would not be jeopardised. "And we all kept our mouths shut."

Hume spoke of the close-knit family ties that Lynne had with her husband and daughters. "Lynne and the girls had a fantastic relationship. The girls have had a tough, tough time. For over 10 weeks we did not know what was going on because there was very little left of the body that could be used to identify Lynne. We went up to Johannesburg to be with Lynne’s parents, and were sitting there waiting in the lounge for information that never came. The pressure was enormous on all of us. But we drew on each others’ strengths and whoever was feeling strong at a particular moment would support those who were feeling weaker.

We are still taking strain."

He said that with the service held in memory of Lynne’s life recently, some sense of closure has been experienced, but the fact that they have not been able to lay her remains to rest still weighs heavily upon them. "This has been our torment. The body is still in Phuthaditjhaba and I don’t know when we will be issued with a death certificate or when the remains will be released to us for cremation."

Hume said that the property industry has to deal with the implications of Lynne’s murder. "It’s very difficult. We go out there trying to give everyone a fair chance. Lynne met Kunene on her own without fear and in good faith as he was seemingly a legitimate buyer."

He urged women in the industry to be very careful and to screen clients. "It is problematic because we rely on the goodwill of people when dealing with them and this can lead to making oneself vulnerable."

Hume said that the support of family, friends and those in the property industry has been indescribable. "People have rallied around us and Lynne’s family. They have helped, emotionally, financially and in every way they could." He said that a few rumours circulated by negative people were firmly squashed by those loyal to the Humes.

Hume said that the family are receiving professional counselling together and individually. "We will continue with this to help us come to terms with what happened."

So will Mark Hume attend the court case when Kunene faces a judge? "Definitely. I will probably be a witness at some stage, but I fully intend to go. I need to look him in the eye. No normal person can do what he is alleged to have done. Kunene comes from the cloth and was apparently a missionary, a man of God and a zealot. What happens in a man’s life that he could perhaps be led to do something like this — allegedly shoot his own son and take the life of someone like Lynne?"

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