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BACK FROM THE DEAD

By Songeziwe Mapukata

Florence Nomvula Penyu, who disappeared 30 years ago in search of a job as a domestic worker, has resurfaced. This, years after her family buried what they thought was her body. She was reunited with her family on Monday after being found living in Gonubie in East London. pic.twitter.com/9RVNp9yahG

Nomvula Penyu disappeared 30 years ago and her family thought they buried her in 2009. But on Monday they found her alive.

Florence Nomvula Penyu was reunited with her family on Monday after being found living in Gonubie in East London in frail health.

Now the mother of three is back at home at the Eastern Cape village of Elujecweni in Ngqeleni.

One of the first places she visited upon her return was the grave that is supposed to be hers, where back in 2009 her family buried a body they believed was hers.

“This grave is not mine. I have never died,” she says in a video shared by activist Petros Ntshele Majola on his Facebook page.

Sitting on the tombstone which bears her full name, she adds: “I have been alive all along but living in East London.”

At 63, Florence does not have an identity document and has never worked in her life.

“I was not coming home because I didn’t have money as I am not working, but now I am happy to be back at home,” Nomvula added.

Her cousin, Poppy Penyu spoke to Scrolla.Africa, saying they found out 12 years ago that Nomvula was dead. Or so they thought.

The family buried a body, one which they now do not know who it belonged to.

“We had even written to a TV show Khumbulekhaya searching for her whereabouts, but not long after that — the show called the family and informed us that her body had been lying frozen in a state mortuary for almost a year and needed to be buried.”

“When we asked how they identified her, they told us that the bodies in the mortuary had tags so she was labelled. We never viewed that body to identify her because we were told it was nearly decomposing. We listened to what we were told and buried the body.”

But on Sunday the family was contacted by someone on Facebook, saying Nomvula was still alive.

That person also sent pictures to the Penyu family. They circulated these images within the whole family and everyone immediately identified her. “That indeed it is her,” Poppy said.

First thing on Monday they travelled to East London. And it was true.

Poppie says when Nomvula saw her family she shouted, “Oh my God! My family is here!” As she ran towards them, they exclaimed: “Nomvula, is this really you?”

When the family keeps asking Nomvula why she has never attempted reaching out to her family, “Nomvula does not respond, she keeps quiet,” Poppy tells Scrolla.Africa.

Nomvula had another life in East London. She had been living with a man for the past 30 years who was abusing her. This abuse had contributed to her now being frail, she says.

Now Nomvula has just one wish: that the unknown grave be removed.

Pictured above: Florence Nomvula Penyu

Image source: Petros Ntshele Majola Facebook page

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