How long does it take for bodies to decompose beyond recognition after being buried?

Probably a hint could come from the case of Jabulani Gomba who died after he was trapped at Antenio Mine Shaft in Collen Bawn eight years ago but his body was found last week with relatives able to positively identify him because some of the scars were still visible on his skin.


Gwanda Provincial Hospital medical superintendent Dr Pugie Chimberengwa confirmed that Gomba’s relatives managed to positively identify the body which had just partially decomposed.

“The body has now been released to the relatives,” he said yesterday.


He will be buried at Masase in Mberengwa, his home area today. Speaking at the hospital yesterday, his uncle, Mr Isheanesu Ndlovu said it was a miracle that Gomba’s body was almost intact eight years after he was trapped in the mine.

“Although it is so painful that we will have to mourn twice, we are happy that he has finally been found. We could identify him because there was not much change on his body and we believe he was pushing for himself in spirit to be found, for it is not African for a person to be buried in the bush. He will now be buried according to our custom,” he said.

One of the people who was there when the mine collapsed in 2008, Mr Donald Pimbiki said Gomba was one of the two miners who disappeared after the incident.

“We managed to save four people when the shaft collapsed in 2008, two went missing and Jabulani was one of them,” he said.

The mine was then closed. Earlier police had confirmed the discovery of the body at the shaft. The body was discovered by panners at around 5pm on Wednesday. Matabeleland South police spokesperson Inspector Philisani Ndebele had said:

“I confirm that there were remains of a body of a man which were found in the shaft of Antenior Mine in Collen Bawn on Wednesday. Police couldn’t detect the time when the deceased fell into the mine shaft, but the body was found in a decomposing stage.”

Police had already sent a plea to identify the body before the positive identification yesterday

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