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A 25-year search for a brother’s remains

A local man has gone to extreme lengths to find the remains of his brother, who was shot and killed while in police custody 25 years ago.

“If I hadn’t gone to jail I would never have known my brother was dead,” says Jeremiah Poselo.

It was during a short stint in the St Albans Correctional Centre in the Eastern Cape that he learnt of his younger brother Sonwabile Poselo’s death from a fellow inmate.

After his release in 2014, Jeremiah set about searching for answers concerning his brother’s death and trying to locate his remains, so the necessary traditional ceremonies could be performed and a burial held.

He said: “At Somerset West Police Station I was told he was shot and killed, but when I visited Home Affairs there was no record of his death. I was confused, and my family didn’t believe me when I informed them of his death, as nobody had been informed of it [to their knowledge].”

After many trips to the police, court, Home Affairs offices and Pollsmoor Prison, Jeremiah finally had enough evidence of his brother’s death, and managed to acquire a death certificate in October, 25 years after his death.

“But up to today we are still searching for my brother’s body,” he said despondently.

Jeremiah and members of his family recently met with Colonel Mary-Ann Williams, Somerset West Police Station commander, to learn more about the circumstances surrounding Sonwabile’s death.

She explained that Sonwabile (28) had been in custody in connection with two murders when he was shot and killed.

“The deceased was in custody at Pollsmoor Prison, and was taken out for further investigation when he was shot on 25 November 1993 while in transit by detectives of the Murder and Robbery Unit,” Williams said.

“It is alleged that while Mr Poselo was out on an investigation with the detectives, the deceased managed to grab hold of a firearm belonging to one of the members. The detectives, fearing for their lives, fatally wounded the deceased.”

She could not, however, provide a reason for the failure to inform Poselo’s family of his death or the whereabouts of the deceased’s remains.

“It is not clear from the records why the family was not informed,” Williams said.

“This office is not in a position to say what happened to the remains of Mr Poselo. According to records, the body was last at the Stellenbosch State Mortuary. No record of where the remains of Sonwabile Poselo are, is available.”

She confirmed that the police agreed to point out the scene of Poselo’s fatal shooting to the deceased’s family to help them get closure.

Poselo’s family on Sunday visited the place where he died.

“Jeremiah Poselo and the councillor of the area were in consultation with residents of the area to get their support for the family to hold a traditional ceremony, to which they had no objection,” Williams added.

“We feel a bit better after we visited the spot and placed some flowers where he died,” said Jeremiah, “but we will not rest until we find my brother’s body so we can give him a decent burial.”

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