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Aisha Fundi did not return to the site where the body of her husband Hassan was found, after he was brutally killed by striking Lonmin mineworkers a year ago.
“It’s like living it all over again. It takes your breath away. I would rather not go back there.”
Instead Fundi chose to join the mine employees in prayer earlier in the week to remember her security guard husband who with his colleague Frans Mabelane was attacked and their vehicle torched five days before 34 mineworkers were shot dead by police.
“I have a young daughter who was like a princess to him and it hurts badly every day to see how much she misses her dad,” Fundi said. “Life has been nothing but difficult for us.”
She is not alone.
In Potchefstroom on Tuesday, Elizabeth Maubane joined the North West police in a day of prayer to honour her brother, Tsietsi Monene, and his colleague, Warrant Officer Sello Lepaaku, who were killed in Marikana last year.
“We still don’t know what happened on that day that he was killed so cruelly,” she said. “The hardest thing for us has been that we feel like the outside has only been sympathetic to the families of the miners killed on August 16th. We are hugely disappointed by this because there were 10 other lives lost before that day.”
As the grieving families of the 34 mineworkers gathered on Friday to mark the anniversary of the August 16 killing in Marikana, one thing become clear: the bereaved from the Marikana tragedy may be united in loss but in reality they are divided.
Such is the legacy of the Lonmin mine conflict which began with wildcat strikes and ended a year ago with no fewer than 44 lives lost. The tensions have been felt at the Farlam Commission of Inquiry investigating the killings.
“There is a group of those whose relatives were killed by the strikers and a group of those killed by police. We hardly look one another in the eyes,” Fundi said.
Fundi said those whose relatives were killed before August 16 were not invited to the commemoration yesterday in Marikana.
“I wish there was a way that the government would be able to bring us together because all of us don’t know what happened in Marikana.”
It has been a long 12 months of despair, grieving and waiting for answers. Her husband was paying the mortgage for the family house and furniture. Two months ago the furniture had been repossessed.
“My husband was from Malawi and he had left three children there from his previous wife and we also have three here that are now without a provider,” Fundi said.
Maubane also stressed that the past 12 months had been the most difficult in their lives.
A bell rung at noon on Tuesday this week was a sad reminder of the moment that her brother took his last breath in agony after he was shot three times and beaten to death by the striking miners.
“Finding out what killed Tsietsi was like a knife in the gut,” she said. “It was worse for his 75-year old mother. He did not deserve to die so cruelly in the hands of other human beings. His death, like those who died on August 16, cannot be less important.” The family of Telang Mohai travelled hundreds of kilometres from Lithoteng Ha Pita in Maseru, Lesotho, to join the relatives of the 34 mineworkers to mark the anniversary of the tragedy yesterday.
Even distance could not ease their pain.
“We are going back with heavy hearts,” said a family member who said he was Mohai’s uncle. “The last time that we were here we had come to fetch his soul and we expected to return for the last time to say we have found the answers we were looking for and his soul can rest knowing that justice has been served.”
But the commission has held 114 sessions without coming to a conclusion. “We have heard submissions and evidence which run to more than 12 000 pages of transcript,” said commission chairman Ian Farlam this week.
He said the commission was conscious of the need to reach a conclusion without undue delay.
But as the anniversary drew to a close on Friday, Fundi and some of the other families remained as apprehensive and sad as they were a year ago. - Saturday Star