Johannesburg - Victims and survivors of the Skierlik massacre – in which four people, including a three-month-old child, were killed – snubbed a commemoration service held in their honour on Tuesday.
The residents of the informal settlement of Skierlik outside Swartruggens in North West chose to remain at their homes while the Kgetlengrivier Local Municipality went ahead with the sixth commemorative anniversary. Only a handful turned up.
The victims and survivors accused the municipality of short-changing them since the tragedy happened.
They claimed that the municipality had failed to pay them a single cent of the sum which they had promised to pay more that six years ago.
Meisie Moiphitlhi, who lost both her daughter Anna and her granddaughter, three-month-old Keditlhotshe, is still angry towards the municipality. Her daughter was carrying her baby on her back when the murderer, Johan Nel, fired the fatal shot at them. The bullet went through Anna and also fatally wounded her child.
“We aren’t feeling good at all. We did not want this event but it keeps going on. As we try to forget, they (municipality) keep reminding us about it, bringing back bad memories that we don’t want,” she said.
Moiphitlhi said she had not seen a cent of the money they were promised for the pain they suffered. “They have to keep their promises. It’s the least they could do,” she said.
Moiphitlhi knows nothing about the meeting that was allegedly held with the families last week to discuss the issues that were raised.
“My grandchildren want their mother. When they see other people with their parents, they feel sad. All I can do is try to make money to make sure they go to school. Their mother will never come back to them,” she said.
Similar sentiments of anger were expressed by other victims.
The families are yet to receive the money promised to them by the municipality. Last year, the families were promised R10 000 for lost loved ones and R5 000 for those injured.
Kelebogile Seruthe, who sustained serious gunshot wounds, and is still receiving medical treatment six years later – gave her reasons for snubbing the event.
“This event is painful. We are being used. Every year, they promise us jobs and money and all sorts of things. Then they go quiet and return again a year later saying the same things,” said Seruthe.
Last year, the families told the organisers that they did not want the commemoration to take place anymore.
Seruthe said they were told they did not have the power to stop it.
“So they just continue doing it without us. January 14 comes with so much pain. Nel hurt me. I want to forget about it now,” said Seruthe.
She said she was tired of her name being used in vain for money she would never receive.
“My only worry now is for the children. There is no work for us. What will they do?”
Ofentse Motshelanoka sat under a tree with friends while the commemoration took place.
“It should really come to an end. They’ve been making their own decisions since 2011. We weren’t at their meeting and they targeted the old people,” he said.
“We refuse to attend it until they treat us like people. How would you feel if people acted like they cared but only came once a year to make money off your loss?” Motshelanoka lost his 10-year-old nephew Tshepo in the shooting.
The municipality’s director of corporate services, Vusi Mtshengu, said the promises made to the families would be kept.