Cut in his prime in South Africa
THIS is certainly not the best of times for the Olubunmi family in Lagos. Ever since the news of the murder of their 36-year-old son, Olugbemi Adurape Olubunmi in Cape Town, South Africa, was relayed to them on Thursday, October 22, 2014, the family has been in disarray. It is the moment they wished could pass away as a fantasy.
However, with the passing of the days, it has dawned on the family that their beloved Olugbemi is no more.
According to the elder sister, Mrs. Omolara Akinbote, his death on August 26, 2015 on a Cape Town-bound train had left the once happy family in a devastated mood.
Worst hit was Olugbemi’s mother, Mrs. Olubunmi, who has been taking care of the deceased’s eight-year old son. She was even expecting money for the boy’s upkeep before the unfortunate news.
Since the incident became public knowledge, friends and associates have converged daily at their home to condole with the family on the death of their son, who had since assumed the role of the family’s breadwinner.
Most importantly, the family is worried that the South African government has not deemed it fit to reach the family. They are perturbed that he was even labeled as an unidentified male by the South African police, even with the identity card on him.
They are now calling on Nigerian government to initiate investigations into the incident as a means of assuaging the pains of the dastardly murder of their brother.
Gbemi, as he was fondly called, left for South Africa in 2013 in search of greener pastures.
Like many ambitious young Nigerians, Gbemi, who graduated in January 2002 with a national diploma in Accounting from the Moshood Abiola Polytechnic, Abeokuta, decided to join the league of asylum seekers, shortly after the demise of his wife few years ago.
On arrival in South Africa, he was able to secure a job in Cape Town and had been assisting the family with his earnings.
He was also said to be calling Nigeria regularly till August 26, when the family could not hear from him, only to learn two months later of his murder on a Cape Town train.
According to Mrs. Akinbote: “Gbemi calls regularly prior to the incident. I chatted with him on August 25 between 4.30-5.30 pm, when he promised to get back to me on August 26.”
“But when I could not hear from him after several attempts to reach him, I left him a voice message on August 30 and followed with a message on his WhatsApp the following day, which was also not replied.
“Before then, he called earlier on Tuesday to say he would be sending money for the upkeep of his son and his school fees. But that was the last time we heard from him. Two weeks later, his friend called to say that he had not seen him for two weeks, which was very unusual. We got worried the more and we started calling other people.”
“Four weeks later, his friends in South Africa reported to the Nigerian community on his disappearance and the search intensified in the mortuary and police stations and there was no record of him still, until the Police later told them of a murder case inside a train.
“The police also said there was an asylum identification and a Nokia phone on him. But friends said Gbemi only used two phones, a blackberry and one IPhone4, which they could not find.”
“We sensed a coordinated attack on our brother and the question is, why did they refuse to contact the Nigerian Embassy or the family when there was an asylum identification on him?
“We want the government to investigate the matter because there is more to it”, she added.
Also Enilolobo Alaba, a friend to the deceased described Gbemi as an amiable, peaceful and easygoing person.
Alaba, who spoke last with Gbemi on August 16, said he found out about his friend’s death when somebody called from South Africa last Thursday to inform them of the incident.
According to him, Gbemi might have been a victim of xenophobic attack in South Africa, which needs to be investigated because of the attitude of the police on the matter.
He said: “Shortly after the news of Gbemi’s death, I contacted a friend on how the South African government can assist to unravel his death. But I was surprised when my friend said the South African government couldn’t do anything because the Nigerian government did not do anything when several South African citizens were killed when a church building collapsed in Lagos.”
“It was absurd to hear such a comment from South Africans and that suggest that Gbemi’s murder might have been coordinated.”
“Gbemi was neither a criminal nor a terrorist. Even if he was an illegal migrant he should not be murdered like that”, he added. Meanwhile, a report carried out by News 24 shortly after the incident indicated that Gbemi was murdered on an early morning Cape Town train.