By Sinenhlanhla Ngwenya
It was a normal evening in November, when an off-campus accommodation security guard, known by the students as ‘Malume’, returned to work from his leave. The accommodation located in Auckland Park was empty apart from the few students who had not yet left for home.
Malume was called by *Solomon, one of the remaining students, to deal with what he thought was going to be a simple and common issue in the residence. “I thought he wanted me to open his locked door or something of that matter, I am always asked to do that,” said Malume.
However, when Malume asked Solomon what the matter was he was told that *Victor, the student with whom Solomon was sharing the unit, was missing. Victor’s parents had been trying to call him without success, as they had wanted to pick him up for his graduation at the University of Johannesburg (UJ).
Malume was now faced with an ethical dilemma. He is not allowed to enter a student’s room without their permission; however, given the circumstances, he did so.
Upon entering the unit, he was greeted by a filthy smell. “It smelt like a dead dog,” he said. Confused he scolded Solomon and suspected that the fridge contained rotten meat, but when he checked there was none to be found. Solomon pointed to Victor’s door.
Malume opened the locked door nervously. It was dark inside and the smell intensified. And right there, in the dark lay the missing boy perfectly still on the bed.
Solomon immediately tried to reach out for his friend but was held back by a firm Malume, who in shock kept his distance. After catching his breath for a minute, Malume stepped closer to confirm his suspicions. The student was dead.
“From there, I chased the unit-mate out because he was panicking now, told him to leave. I told him he was grown now and saw who he wanted to see and what the state was,” said Malume, his hands rising instinctively for emphasis.
Malume reported the incident to his colleagues and the landlord, who later informed the student’s parents and the police.
The night was long and busy, but having done his part as a witness, Malume thought it had come to an end. However, the most difficult task was still to come. He was asked to help carry the body out.
“When we were called to help, I dreaded it and felt scared. My fellow colleagues ran away in fear,” Malume said.
The body was heavy and it took a laborious hour to move it down to the ground floor.
Work after that night was unbearable, according to Malume. He was granted a few days leave by the landlord, but Malume said they were not enough to help him.
“My company did not even give me a consultation with a psychologist to fix me. I suffered for those two months: December and January. But there was nothing I could do, I had to work,” said Malume.
“I felt like his spirit was tormenting and following me around. I don’t even know why he did that to himself. It hurt knowing that he was going to graduate and make his family happy,” he continued.
It has been confirmed that Victor’s death was suicide. However, the reason why this student took his own life remains unclear.
“I feel remorse for the boy and his family,” Malume said and concluded with, “I could not go to his funeral, but I wished all went well.”
*The name are not those of the actual people involved.
If you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts contact
Suicide Crisis Line 0800 567 567
Or visit: www.sadag.org
Reporting by Sinenhlanhla Ngwenya; Editing by Amber Richardson and Gaby Ndongo