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Marikana dead remembered

2014-08-13 16:39

Pretoria - The Farlam Commission of Inquiry on Wednesday paid tribute to six men who were killed at Marikana on this day two years ago.

"Let us observe a minute's silence and pray that their souls may rest in peace, commission chairperson, retired Judge Ian Farlam, said at the public hearings in Pretoria.

"May we also express hope that the families and loved ones of the persons we commemorate today will receive consolation and strength as we go through the painful process to relive their deaths."

The six are warrant officers Hendrick Tsietsi and Sello Ronnie Lepaaku, Julius Langa who was fatally stabbed 18 times, Phumzile Sokanyile, Tembelakhe Mati, and Semi Jokanisi.

Lonmin security guards Hassan Fundi and Frans Mabelani were killed on 12 August 2012.

The commission is investigating the deaths of 44 people during strike-related violence at Lonmin's platinum mining operations at Marikana, near Rustenburg in the North West in August 2012.

Thirty-four people, mostly striking mineworkers, were shot dead in a clash with police, over 70 were wounded, and over 250 arrested on 16 August 2012. Police were apparently trying to disarm and disperse them.

In the preceding week, 10 people, including the two policemen and the two Lonmin security guards, were killed.

On Wednesday, the commission heard presentations by lawyers and families of the 44 deceased.

Fundi's widow Aisha said her husband was killed at Marikana while she was preparing Eid celebrations. She was informed by her husband's friend that Hassan's phone was not working.

"I became worried and tried to call Hassan but I did not get through. I spoke to our Imam and he said I should not worry because he had spoken to Hassan earlier that day," Aisha said in her sworn statement.

She was informed by another friend, also employed at Lonmin, that Hassan had been involved in a shooting incident. The widow said she rushed home where she was later informed about Fundi's death.

"From this commission, my family and I are hoping to receive answers on why my husband was killed in such a brutal manner," said the mother of three.

"Why was my husband left exposed by his employer in the context of such an unprecedented security situation? Why were the pictures of my husband distributed on the internet soon after his death, and by whom?"

Emotional outbursts

As the presentation continued on Wednesday, outbursts of weeping echoed in the Tshwane council chambers, where the commission holds the public hearings.

Some women collapsed and the inquiry was briefly adjourned. They were carried out.

Warrant Officer Monene was described by his family as "a responsible community member and a loyal police officer who served with compassion and diligence".

"He was a breadwinner to his wife and seven dependants. He also supported his extended family," according to the Monene family statement.

Monene, who had 22 years of police service, was deployed to Marikana on 13 August 2012.

The family said it was suffering financially and would want the Farlam Commission to ascertain why he was brutally killed.

Monene's sister Elizabeth told the inquiry that 13 August was a "dark day" for her family.

"Let the Almighty bless us and we have to get closure for what happened at Marikana," she said.

Monene and Leepaku were hacked to death in a confrontation between the protesting mineworkers and police close to a railway line at Marikana.

Leepaku had been a police officer for 24 years and had been decorated with SA Police Service loyal service medals.

"My husband and I were meant to be together and I will never forget the wonderful times we spent together. I will miss him so much, his memory will live as long as I live," said Leepaku's widow Pertunia.

She said Leepaku was the sole breadwinner and earned around R8 000 per month. He would also reach out to assist his extended family.

"I saw my wounded husband, on TV, being carried away by his colleagues. I tried to call him but his cellphone rang unanswered," said Pertunia.

Leepaku died on the way to hospital.

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