My interests are on the family of the missing victims who disappeared during the apartheid era. In South Africa, many people who participated in the political struggle against the apartheid government disappeared. As many as 477 cases relating to unsolved missing persons were acknowledged by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), where the requirement that the individual went missing under political circumstances had been met. In most cases political killings were perpetrated by police in gruesome and violent ways. I developed an interest on the topic of the family of the missing after researching the case of Looksmart Ngudle. According to The Star newspaper, Ngudle was the first political fighter to die under the 90 day detention law in 1963. His son wrote a letter appealing to the Missing Persons Task Team (MPTT) to find the remains of his father after forty-four years. The fact that families of the missing experience loss and uncertainty for so many years before cases are resolved drove my interest as it depicts how violence is not limited by the act, but it can manifest itself as it ‘migrates’ through various terrains, for example, the private space of family.
As very little research has been centred on the family of those who disappeared under political circumstances during the period of 1960-1994, this study will focus on the infiltration of violence into the private space of family. With exhumations still continuing today, the issue is contemporary and requires first- hand accounts. Many of the family members who experienced the disappearance of their father/ brother/ mother/ etc are elderly, which calls for an urgent need for their experience to be recorded.