Questions and concerns were plentiful this past weekend stemming from the recent death of an African inventor whose water saving device gained national attention months before his mysterious demise.
University of Cape Town student Nkosinathi Nkomo died late last year after authorities say he fell from the balcony of a multi-story apartment building. At just 24 years old, Nkomo had created his own water purification system called AqauRenu, a device aimed at relieving South Africa’s drought crisis, The South African reported.
The student’s invention began gaining attention in October, helping him cover his university fees and continue progress on his civil engineering degree. Just two months later, however, Nkomo was mysteriously dead with police offering little details into what had happened. Family and friends remembered him as an extremely smart, determined young man with a dry sense of humor.
Fast forward to February of this year and critics are accusing a white developer of stealing the young man’s idea and taking credit for it. The allegations were sparked over the weekend after local politician Helen Zille tweeted a post promoting industrial designer Retief Krige’s water invention, Waterloo.
Congratulations Retief Krige, the industrial designer who created Waterloo, the quick and easy way of using your shower water to flush your loo. Affordable too! https://t.co/HOyBqAyDpp pic.twitter.com/PIuHFeeGMQ
— Helen Zille (@helenzille) February 7, 2018
Many critics were quick to point out how much the device resembled Nkomo’s and from there, the conspiracy theories flew.
Justice for Nkosinathi Nkomo!!!! He invented this and then he "fell off a 50 story building" !!!
Nkosinathi won't allow it to rain there till there is justice !! #JusticeForNkosinathiNkomo https://t.co/EKsu2CWNEr
— Samú (@SamkeloNdlovu) February 8, 2018
Nkosinathi Nkomo comes up with an affordable grey water system that reuses bath water to flush the toilet then dies unexpectedly. Three month later Retief Krige comes up with the same solution https://t.co/PxhsCtBcY8
— Post Malume (@Navigator_SA) February 8, 2018
They killed Nkosinathi Nkomo & whitewashed his genius.
— Ottilia Anna M (@MaS1banda) February 8, 2018
This is the idea of Nkosinathi Nkomo. Few weeks from now you will all be exposed. pic.twitter.com/6L7HnXO53W
— The Liberal (@Sanele_Langazan) February 8, 2018
1. Nkosinathi Nkomo invents an affordable grey water system that reuses bath water to flush the toilet dies unexpectedly.
2. Piet what's his white face "invents a grey water system that reuses shower water to flush the toilet" the months after the unexpected death of Nkosinathi.
— Red John (@Peanutt_01) February 8, 2018
What happened to #NkosinathiNkomo is proof that we can create anything but if you don't let white people in, they will eliminate you and claim your glory. Mysteriously falls from the 50th floor my black ass
— DConner89 (@TaureanReign) February 12, 2018
Question of the year:
What happened to Nkosinathi Nkomo?
Dont get tired of asking tbat questions until we get answers.
— Phil Mphela (@PhilMphela) February 9, 2018
Nkomo’s father has ruled out the possibility of suicide in his son’s death.
“He didn’t owe anyone anything. He had no debts or a bond that he was struggling to pay,” Moses Ndimande told Sowetan Live in December. ” …The truth will come out one day as to what really happened on that fateful day.”
Investigators said no foul play was suspected. Still, many critics beg to differ.
Zille later responded to suspicions that Krige’s invention was in any way linked to Nkomo’s “tragic death,” tweeting, “to suggest it’s connected to another industrial engineer who did not know him is extremely unfair. The 2 systems are very different.”
“If Nkosinathi had invited me to the launch of his product, I would have been there!”