Marikana families demand answers

Pretoria - Most families of 44 people who died during the August 2012 Marikana unrest demand answers on the deaths of their loved ones, the Farlam Commission of Inquiry heard on Wednesday.

"We want to know, what steps our government took in this strike? We are here everyday for this problem of the killing of our relatives by the police. We want the truth," Lanford Gqotjelwa, whose cousin Thembelakhe Mati was killed on 13 August, told the inquiry in Pretoria.

"What caused the president not to come and address the families of the deceased? The former leader of the National Union of Mineworkers' evidence cannot be trusted."

He was referring to Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, who testified at the commission on Monday and Tuesday about his role in the Marikana events. He was repeatedly heckled as he gave evidence.

Gqotjelwa said he worked in a mine for over two decades but there had never been an instance where miners were killed for demanding a wage hike.

"Now the government cannot intervene in mine strikes because it is involved. In this country, there is a darkness that is leading the light," he said.

The commission, chaired by retired judge Ian Farlam, is investigating the deaths of 44 people during strike-related violence at Lomin'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 two policemen and the two Lonmin security guards, were killed. On Wednesday, the commission heard presentations by lawyers and families of the 44 deceased.

Weeping echoes in the chambers

Betty Gadlela, from Swaziland, said her husband Stelega was "a man of peace".

He had worked for Lonmin for 23 years and left behind 11 children.

"I blame Lonmin very much. They employed my husband. When he complained about the wages, they called police. That hurts me. The police represent the government of this country," she said.

"The police killed the miners after being told that the protesters were faceless people. How do police kill in a country where they are well trained? It means this government scorns mineworkers."

She said her husband's death had drastically changed her life.

"He came to this country to work. He was killed for his rights. I have heard evidence in this commission from senior police officers saying those who shot did a very good job," said Gadlela.

Another widow, Nandipa Gunuza, said her husband Bonginkosi Yona died when their son was only seven days old.

"My baby Mihle did not get the chance to meet his father. It is pain which no one can take away. I blame Lonmin for taking its workers for granted," she said in a statement to the inquiry.

"I also blame the police. I am at this inquiry to seek justice. The police should have known better. They can't solve a situation by killing people. Where were the teargas and rubber bullets?"

Outbursts of weeping echoed in the Tshwane council chambers, where the commission holds the public hearings as the presentations went on.

Some women collapsed and the inquiry was briefly adjourned. Three women were rushed to a nearby hospital.

Other presentations would be heard when the public hearings resumed on Thursday.

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Werner Nel 2014/08/13 09:40:38 PM
They stormed the police armed....
Robert Robinson 2014/08/13 09:56:36 PM
Again DEMAND wtf
Ngwako Ramothopa Ngwako 2014/08/13 09:57:12 PM
Ramaphosa you must remember what you did at marikana 'Julius Malema he did try to talk but you and your police you he must leave'people of South Africa they will never vote for ANC
Kim Kloppers 2014/08/13 10:08:07 PM
You went on strike! U rushed police. What did U expect ?
Kim Kloppers 2014/08/13 10:08:07 PM
You went on strike! U rushed police. What did U expect ?
Kim Kloppers 2014/08/13 10:08:35 PM
Now u want what"????? So typical !! Want want want
mica gogome 2014/08/13 10:34:04 PM
No,not answers,death is a irreversible situation.You can cry,wail,gnash your teeth and faint and all you want.Enough of these performances.I know that all the family members attending an enquiry are hoping for the day to hear that they will each receive a million rand.That will be a smile to their faces.In this world a man's death is another man's profit.Save us God.
Vivian Harris 2014/08/13 11:02:54 PM
Wow....blame everyone else. They were a violent mob that killed innocent people and attacked the police with dangerous weapons. If they were peaceful about their wage protest and didn't kill then none of this would have happened.
Nizaam Saban 2014/08/13 11:10:16 PM
I also thought the mineworkers were to blame until I watched the Aljazeera documentary on the topic.
Nndweleni Sigonde 2014/08/14 03:36:44 AM
I dont know whether people also consider that there is a lost lifes of police officers and guards?because most people are more concernd about mine workers who died,who killed the police and the security? Lets not look on one side here caz even the securities and police officers were some1's husbands,fathers,brothers,sons,etc.lets be soberly look on who butcherd them or people are saying they deserv to die than mine worker?