‘Make Marikana hilltop a monument’

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seoka crying

INLSA

Bishop Johannes Seoka during the cross-examaination at the public hearing of the Marikana Commission of Enquiry. Picture: Dumisani Sibeko

Rustenburg -

The hilltop in Marikana where 34 people were shot by police on August 16 should be declared a monument, SA Council of Churches president Johannes Seoka said on Friday.

Concluding his testimony before the Farlam commission on Friday, Seoka asked the commission to consider making that recommendation in its report to President Jacob Zuma.

“According to the African culture and beliefs it is sacred space now. So many lives were lost there and their spirits are believed to be in that situation,” said Seoka.

“That will be a critical gesture to help in the healing of those that have been affected. This tragedy of Marikana should help us to create a platform to create long-term solutions that will make our country to be a better place.”

The clergyman requested that a moment of silence be observed in respect of the 44 people who were killed during the mines unrest at Marikana.

“I don’t recall that we have ever respected those who lost their lives; let’s just stand for a second in respect of the miners who died,” he said.

An initial moment of silence had been observed on the first day of the three-member commission in the Rustenburg Civic Centre.

Earlier, Seoka said the events of August 16 had left many people, including himself, deeply traumatised.

“If that call I received after 4pm (on August 16) came from the person I suspect it came from, can anyone imagine what this is doing to me?” he said.

“I still hear that voice, even as I testify here. Yesterday I approached advocate (Mbuyiseli) Madlanga (head of the evidence-leading team) to provide psychological services, because this is not child's play.”

He said he had also requested other organisations to provide psychological services to the families, survivors, clergy, and other people who were affected by the Marikana shooting.

“I will be the first patient of those people, but those widows sitting there and their children should be assisted,” said Seoka.

“Some people have told me that they now live in constant fear as a result of August 16.”

Thirty-four striking miners were shot dead on August 16 and 78 wounded when police tried to disperse a group that had gathered on a hill near the mine.

In the preceding week, 10 people, including two police officers and two security guards, were killed around the Lonmin platinum mine.

On Friday morning, advocate Louis Gumbi, for the Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (Popcru), asked Seoka to retract his statement stating that police officers in South Africa could not be trusted.

“Don't you think the best (thing to do) is to retract that statement and apologise to those widows and children of those killed in the line of duty?” Gumbi asked him.

Seoke replied: “I did not mean all police officers in SA are untrustworthy. If those (officers killed) were your members I would apologise about that.” - Sapa


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