A CASE OF DISAPPEARANCE

In May 1998, Mr. Jackson Taliwe disappeared on his way home after an evening with friends. On foot, he passed through an unsafe area and had to cross busy roads late at night. He was never seen again. His family, friends and the community searched for him, but their efforts were futile. His employer, after his 18 years of service with them, declared him a deserter. His family approached ProBono.Org seeking closure and the matter was referred to Bowmans.

Bowmans assisted Mrs Taliwe in obtaining a presumption of death order in 2017. In preparation of the application, and to ensure that they had explored all possible avenues, they requested records from the SAPS to determine if anyone was found in the area where Mr. Taliwe disappeared. Due to the time lapse, this was a challenging process. Fortuitously, records of one person were found in close proximity to where Mr. Taliwe went missing. Unfortunately these records were incomplete, unrecognisable and timeworn and accordingly not sufficient to identify the person and to obtain a death certificate. However, based on the circumstances surrounding Mr. Taliwe’s disappearance and his personal description, the family believed the records found related to him. This exercise and the records obtained were instrumental in obtaining the presumption of death order.

Bowmans prepared the application and was assisted by Adv. Xolisa Hilita who appeared in the Johannesburg High Court on the client’s behalf. The ultimate outcome of this process was to give the family closure and to enable Mrs Taliwe to claim unclaimed pension fund benefits, which claim has since been paid out to her and her children. These benefits offer substantial financial relief to the family.

We thank the Bowmans team of Melissa Strydom and Carmen Bradfield for a successful outcome in this case.

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