R. (Riedwaan) Moosage, MA

Riedwaan MoosageAfter completing a BA (summa cum laude) and BA Hons (cum laude) at the University of the Western Cape (UWC), I was awarded a Masters fellowship at the Centre for Humanities Research at UWC in the Programme on the Study of the Humanities in Africa. My Masters degree (cum laude) was completed in 2010 and focused on the practice of necklacing, the practice of placing a tyre around the neck or body of an individual, dousing it and the individual with petrol and setting alight, and the ways in which that practice is ‘written’ into something like a postapartheid history of liberation struggle. Guiding that thesis were questions relating to the ways in which history works in (not) narrating moments of violence. Continuing and expanding that line of questioning, my PhD research focuses on (missing) dead bodies of apartheid.

PhD Research: The work of history in figuring apartheid’s (missing) dead bodies through discursive practices of law, transitional justice and memorialisation

During the height of resistance to apartheid rule in South Africa, a number of individuals deemed ‘the enemy’ were made ‘missing’, or in the language of human rights violations categories, there were a number of ‘enforced disappearances’. In South Africa this usually, though not specifically, involved detention, torture, interrogation, release, abduction, poisoning, killing, burning of the corpse and disposing of charred remains by functionaries of apartheid’s security police. While in terms of numbers, South Africa’s (missing) dead bodies of apartheid cannot be made comparable with cases of ‘enforced disappearances’ as experienced for example within the Latin American context, during the Truth and Reconciliation Commission process through family and perpetrator testimonies, large scale media coverage and the subsequent work of the Missing Persons Task Team, these individuals’ dead bodies, those ‘missing’ and those able to be ‘recovered’, has captured an imagination of South Africa’s present-past-future in a quest for ‘national healing’ and transitional justice. It inspires a re-memberance of both the callousness of the former security police establishment, the system of apartheid itself and perhaps most importantly, the desire to move beyond a ‘not knowing’ to a ‘knowing’ (of why and how they were killed and disposed of and of locating the remains to allow for (re)burial) as it relates to the work of mourning and justice, in whichever way conceived. By focussing on the ‘enforced disappearances’, or rather the ‘missing-ness’ of Sizwe Kondile (1981), Siphiwo Mthimkulu and Topsy Madaka (1982), my research is concerned with that interstitial space of ‘not knowing’ and ‘knowing’ and seeks to question, examine and trace how the (missing) dead of apartheid are figured within history and its discourses through discursive practices of law, transitional justice and memorialisation.

Supervisors: Prof. dr. Susan Legêne, prof. dr. Leslie Witz, prof. dr. Ciraj Rassool

E-mail: riedwaanmsg@gmail.com