”Over here”, yelled Mpilo.
We walked through a wave of Baobab trees cloaked in humidity and sunlight. We had finally found Nolwazi and Sizani. We had been looking for them for two days.
“The bodies have been staged”, yelled Mpilo.
Lieutenant Colonel Talana Bhengani, a well-respected forensics scientist, walked behind First Lieutenant Mpilo Ngazitha. She quickly trotted past him and immediately pulled out a small camera and a pair of plastic gloves from a medium sized kidney shaped nylon blue bag.
“Definitely staged,” said Talana. “If there’re clues as to whom the criminals are I’ll find them.” She looked around the area a second time, bobbing her head back and forth as if she was a chicken picking seeds from the ground. Talana gazed over everything twice sometimes three times. “I should have enough evidence to convict them, and their sorry ass forefathers to boot,” she said to anyone within listening distance.
“Shaka Zulu!” Talana said out loud betraying her stoicism, her mouth staying agape looking at Nolwazi and Sizani. The entire scene was surreal…there was my daughter, the daughter of the most powerful general of the Kingdom of Zulu. “She is dead”, a maddening echo repeated to me.
Talana hastily shook her head, and she began taking pictures of what was seemingly a bloodless crime scene.
I took a deep gulp and viewed Nolwazi and Sizani. They were both tied with three sets of long white ropes. One rope was tied to the inside of a left ankle, flushed on the base of the heels and ran up the opposite side of the left hand foot. The second rope followed the exact same pattern on the right hand foot; the final rope was neatly and painstakingly wrapped around the entire body. Nolwazi and Sizani appeared as if they were praying and while doing so had been attacked by a giant white spider.
I stood behind Mpilo and Talana, my knees buckling slightly after seeing Nolwazi and Sizani. I was hoping it was not her, not them, but it was unlikely. Two hundred abductions in the past forty years, the victims were always killed but their bodies were never staged.
I then looked at my first daughter, Nolwazi, dead. Her hair shaven and her body wrapped in white rope. Besides her was Sizani, her head also shaven, and she too was wrapped in white rope.
“Are you all right General Ngcobo?” asked Mpilo
I sighed deeply, “I am as well as is expected. I knew they would be dead but this is still shocking”
Nolwazi was as beautiful in death as she was in life. Her dark brown skin still glowed, and her high minded comportment could still be seen on her forehead, beaming through her body. Yet, she felt as cold as a mountain morning.
Lying next to her was Sizani Thusini who had been Nolwazi’s best friend. They had known each other their entire life. Sizani was a member of the Thusini family, military contractors and friends known for their production of highly thin but powerful body armor. It was a shame she had to be a casualty for sins committed by us.
Talani came by my side and looked at me with such an amazing amount of humanity; one born out of her general nature and not from some tepid obligation. She held my hand without my knowledge of it violently convulsing back and forth against my leg, gave it a hard grip and then held it between her hands and started to speak. She was inaudible. However, she wanted me to listen to her. And seeing that I was not, she gripped my hand slightly harder and began to ask her question again.
“General Ngcobo! Are you okay?” Talani asked.
I shook my head up and down holding back the tears developing haphazardly in my eyes.
“Sir, there is evidence of a dual sexual assault”, Talani reported.
I could tell in her eyes she was unsure if she should have told me and to a certain extent she shouldn’t have. Yet, I imagined the soldier in her required her to, but the women in her advised her not to.
I then walked over to my daughter’s body. Silently, violently weeping, and turned to Talani.
“Talani! You can’t state in your report that Nolwazi and Sizani were desecrated sexually” I said with as much of a voice I could muster.
“Why sir? Don’t you want the nation to know of this sick deed so as to be aware of this evil in the Kingdom of Zulu?”
I took a deep breath and said,
“I do not care to alert the general public to the most un-honorable thing to have ever happened to me or my family. Hopefully you can understand this. It is a private matter, it has nothing to do with the people…. respect… my family… that’s what’s important. We must hold the memory of Nolwazi and Sizani in high regards. For them to be remembered in this way is not possible.”
“The truth empowers Zulu women, lying to them denies there’s a problem, a few powerful men and their fragile egos running roughshod over the truth is the least acceptable answer”, she said.
I thought about everything she said. She was wrong of course. However, her words did move me. I was dealing with a woman with an iron cast belly of integrity; a quality bound to test my authority as well as the well-being of my future generations.
“Mpilo, Kill her”, I said in a barely audible voice.
Mpilo thought nothing of it. He took out a long four foot blade with a black grip made of a thin durable plastic and placed it directly between Lieutenant Colonel Talana Bhengani’s breast bones before she could even raise a finger. It was a quick death.
Mpilo then dragged Talana’s body and placed it next to Nolwazi and Sizani. There was not a word said between us for hours as I figured out how I would bury three beautiful women on a hot Zulu morning.