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Two families, brought together by the same tragedy - though under totally different circumstances - on Friday sat together and commemorated their loss at the Marikana massacre last year.
“The forgotten of Marikana” gathered to remember their loved ones in an intimate and dignified ceremony in the city, while thousands of mineworkers, political party leaders and unionists gathered in Marikana to remember the events of August 16, 2012, when more than 30 miners were killed by police.
The families of the policemen, Warrant Officer Tsietsi Monene and Mabotho Moilwa, joined the South African Policing Union in remembering the fallen heroes and victims of the events of last year.
“We had to come together to reflect on what happened during that fateful day a year ago,” said union president Mpho Kwinika.
While Monene was among the 10 policemen and security guards brutally killed a few days before August 16, 26-year-old Moilwa took his own life nine days after the killings, after telling family members that he could not live with the horror of what he had witnessed.
Yesterday his sister Denise said: “Before he came back home he told me he was struggling to live with the horror inside him.”
He had told his sister that as much as he wanted to give up and leave Marikana, he would stay on and serve his country with the pride and dignity he had sworn to.
But when he came back home he withdrew from his family, preferring to sit and watch TV rather than talk to them.
“Then one day while he sat with friends and family, including our grandmother, he put his gun to his head and shot himself,” she said.
The policeman had gone into his room and fetched his service pistol before rejoining the gathering and shooting himself, she said.
His mother, Virginia’s tears fell freely at the commemoration on Friday.
“She has struggled to deal with the death,” said Denise.
Monene’s death came three days before the massacre, when he and another officer were attacked by striking miners. They were “chopped” to death.
When he was found, the father of five children had gashes all over his body, two holes in his chest, and his face was hacked beyond recognition.
But the wellbeing of the families, of those who had witnessed the horror and died in the line of duty, had never been taken care of, union chaplain N Mazibuko pointed out.
He spoke of forgiveness, which he said was the step all concerned should have been at during this stage a year later.
“Of course families and the police officers that survived are still dealing with the pain and questions from the events, and ask what, why and how,” he said.
“These unanswered questions only breed anger, bitterness and endless pain,” he said.
He said some families of men who survived the massacre no longer lived normal lives, especially with all the footage being screened every now and again.
The men had never received counselling, and had had no psychological interventions.
“They live with the pain of knowing that some of those bullets were discharged by them, and can’t sleep at night.”
He said there was need for cleansing of the souls, and healing.
Candles were lit in the memory of the two, and songs were sung.
“This is just the beginning of a process,” said Kwinika.
The families who had suffered as a result of the events of that fateful day would never walk alone, he added. - Pretoria News