Marikana widows ‘just want the truth’

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IOL marikana anniversary395 THE STAR Widow Betty Gadlela lamented police chief Riah Phiyega's evidence. Picture: Itumeleng English

Johannesburg - For some of the widows of the mineworkers slain at Marikana, the Farlam Commission of Inquiry is like a flickering light.

It keeps bringing hope in their quest to find answers, and ultimately closure for their loss - and then kills it. They now fear that the truth about the murder of their loved ones will never come to light.

“There are things we didn’t know about that happened on that mountain. The video (footage) shows that husbands were killed by the police. But the police have not told the truth. Without that, we are confused,” said Betty Gadlela, 46, widow of Stilega Gadlela, a Lonmin rock drill operator.

On Thursday, some of the relatives of the slain miners broke down at the commission in Centurion, during commemoration proceedings of the second anniversary of the August 16, 2012, massacre.

Forty-four people were killed, including the 10 who died before August 16. About 70 others were injured, while 250 of the miners were arrested.

During the commemorative event, the families spoke of how they were struggling to survive after their sole breadwinners were killed.

IOL marikana anniversary427 Mmatshepang Ntswele, 40, at the proceedings. Picture: Itumeleng English THE STAR

“We want to know what steps our government took in this strike. We are here every day listening to evidence about the killing of our relatives by the police. We want the truth,” said Lanford Gqotjelwa, whose cousin Thembelakhe Mati was killed on August 13.

Gadlela said she was worried that the commission might not reveal the real truth.

“My husband died a day after we celebrated his 52nd birthday. The post-mortem shows that he was killed by a police bullet. But the police don’t want to admit they killed him and the other mineworkers,” the mother-of-five said.

Mmatshepang Ntswele, 40, the widow of Molefi Ntswele, was forthright about her frustration with the commission.

“We don’t know where it’s leading. The problem is that nobody wants to tell the truth. I can’t say many of us will get answers to give to our children about how their fathers died when we go back home. We are confused,” Ntswele, a mother-of-three, said.

She and Gadlela accused national police commissioner General Riah Phiyega and former police minister Nathi Mthethwa of being economical with the truth.

“Riah Phiyega did not answer all the questions. The way she was answering questions, when you look at her face, she was full of herself and arrogant.

“She even thanked the police for doing a good job. She was impressed by what they did. Mthethwa didn’t say anything,” Ntswele said.

Gadlela was agitated as she recalled the testimonies of Phiyega and Mthethwa.

“The way the police killed our husbands, and listening to his evidence, it was like the police were revenging the killing of their colleagues.

“But that can’t be true, because there is no evidence of our husbands killing the police or other people.”

However, Gadlela and Ntswele were conciliatory towards Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa.

“But he (Ramaphosa) is not like Phiyega. Phiyega and Mthethwa’s language shows that they did this deliberately.

“They were only concerned about their jobs. They showed that they were prepared, and ready to do what they did. There was no apology or forgiveness asked,” she added.

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