The mother of Chuma Shweni, the late president of Nafcoc Youth, who passed away under controversial circumstances at a traditional healing initiation school outside Johannesburg last month, wants to know the truth about her son’s death.
It is alleged that Shweni died of a seizure on September 9 after he had consumed traditional beer (umqombothi) as part of a prescribed ritual.
However, an autopsy carried out the next day found that he suffered head injuries from a blunt object. According to the autopsy report – which City Press has seen – his death certificate states that he died of unnatural causes.
Shweni was a well-known businessperson who became a millionaire at the age of 21, according to his Nafcoc profile, and was heralded as a visionary, a fierce fighter against corruption and a person who loved his family.
Booysens Police Station communications officer Captain Lorraine van Emmerik said they had not yet received the post-mortem results and could not take any action before they arrived.
The deceased’s mother, Noluthando Shweni, believes there has been a concerted effort to hide the facts about her son’s death.
“All I want is closure and the truth. I’ve had four versions of the story, but none relates to what Chuma’s body is saying. It’s telling me a different version,” she said.
“I saw the body of my child. He had bruises, his head was covered in bandages and his clothes were bloodied. I was told he’d had a heart attack,” said Shweni.
“All I want to know is what happened to my child because the body is talking a different language to what I am being told,” she said.
Alakhe Shweni, the deceased’s widow, declined to comment, but referred City Press to family spokesperson Prince Gcinuhlanga Tambekile Matanzima.
Matanzima said Shweni had died while attending an ukuthwasa ceremony conducted at a traditional healer's school in Turffontein.
“As the family, we were told that, after coming from the river where a particular ritual was held, he felt tired and was allocated a room in which to rest. It was while he was still resting in the room that he encountered death. Those who were present, including his wife [realised something was wrong with him] and called paramedics. He was then taken to hospital,” said Matanzima.
But Noluthando feels she has been cast aside by the family because she is asking hard questions.
“Decisions are being taken without me, the mother. I don’t want Chuma’s money, I just want to know what happened. Where did the bruises on his body come from? Where did the head injuries come from?” she asked.
She believes the police are not asking the right questions because there are conflicting accounts of how he died.
“A person is dead and [the autopsy report] states that it wasn’t natural. The stories don’t correlate. I, myself, am not saying anything, it’s Chuma’s body that’s talking. I don’t understand how a person who suffered from an alleged seizure could have head injuries and a cracked skull.
“It’s my wish to get justice for my son because, as his mother who brought him up until the age of 28, I have a right to know how he died and the circumstances that led to his death.”
Nafcoc president Sabelo Macingwane said Shweni had saved the organisation by fighting against internal corruption, which saw more than R60 million disappear from its coffers.
“There were too many hands in the cookie jar. Chuma stood up in a meeting and told everyone this wasn’t acceptable and a change was needed. [As for me], I made a pact with the youth that the future belongs to them and they should lead Nafcoc,” said Macingwane.