‘What happened to my sister, Eskom?’

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May 31, 2017
‘What happened to my sister, Eskom?’

QUESTIONS: Mboneni Yende, the brother of Thembisile Yende, stands outside Eskoms Pieterboth substation in protest after his sister was found dead in her office on Monday afternoon. Yende went missing two weeks ago. Picture: Ilanit Chernick

Eskom has been sharply rebuked by Thembisile Yende’s family for what they believe is the power utility’s inaction over finding their loved one, suspecting foul play in the handling of her death.

This comes after Yende’s decomposed body was discovered late on Monday in her locked office at the Eskom substation where she worked as an engineering assistant, almost two weeks after she had been reported missing.

The Star reported on Friday that Yende went missing on Wednesday, May 17, after routinely leaving her Springs home for work after 6am that morning in her company-issued vehicle.

Yesterday, police spokesperson Sergeant Harry Manaka said Yende’s body was found on Monday — with her head covered in a black plastic bag — after 4pm when Eskom employees noticed a bad smell from the corridors of the substation where she worked.

However, Yende’s older brother Mboneni Yende questioned which employees had found his sister, as she worked on her own and the substation’s security officers knocked off at 6am — before Yende’s shift began.

The lack of security at the plant was corroborated by Yende’s partner Paseka Modise, who lived with her, saying Yende had to open and close the gate with a padlock as it did not have a motor.

“The gate was not motorised — it was fixed only after we opened the (missing person) case. We are questioning the security of these premises because, from a safety perspective, this gate should always be motorised as it’s in a remote area and Thembi is a woman working on her own,” Modise said.

When The Star visited the plant in Selcourt, Springs, yesterday, the padlock in question was still visible on the gate. There were more than 10 security officers on the premises, who refused to comment.


FOUND DEAD: Thembisile Lucia Yende.

Yende’s younger brother, Sihle Yende, told The Star he went with his brother Jabu to the plant to search for his sister, but were not allowed to go inside her office.

Instead, he added, they were taken by a supervisor to a storeroom filled with equipment, where they found the door unlocked but the burglar gate locked.

“He told us to look from the outside and we didn’t see any signs of Thembi,” Sihle said.

He also questioned why the sniffer dogs that were used to search the substation did not pick up his sister’s scent during the search for her.

Sihle added he was with the police and Eskom officials when the search was being conducted.

Sergeant Manaka could not confirm whether the sniffer dogs used were from Eskom or the police, but added: “I also wonder why the dogs could not pick up the scent of the young lady.

“There is a possibility her body was brought to the plant after she was dead.

“But this is something that can only be determined as the investigation continues and when we receive the post-mortem results, which will provide the date and time of her death.”

Modise also questioned why the security cameras were not working, considering that Yende worked alone.

Manaka confirmed that the CCTV cameras were not working at the time of Yende’s disappearance.

By the time of publication, Eskom spokesperson Khulu Phasiwe had not answered calls or responded to emailed questions about the substation’s lack of security.

Meanwhile, Mboneni slammed Eskom for not contacting the family for the two weeks his sister had been missing, and for not offering the family grief counselling after the body was found.

This is despite Eskom’s statement released yesterday, where its human resources executive Elsie Pule said the company had been “working closely with the family” since Yende’s disappearance and would continue to do so, including providing grief counselling.

However, Lindiwe Lasindwa, a member of Gauteng’s provincial legislature and a community leader in Springs, repudiated Pule’s views, emphasising: “They are not here to speak to the family and have the nerve to release a statement. Eskom is full of rubbish – they just don’t care!”

The Star

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