Widows, orphans and a R18m buffalo

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Copy of st digi ramaphosa INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPERS Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa during the Farlam Commission of Inquiry. Photo: Oupa Mokoena

Pretoria - Most families of 44 people who died during the August 2012 Marikana unrest are struggling financially, the Farlam Commission of Inquiry heard on Wednesday.

“Thabiso (Mosebetsane) was the only who was working in the family. I want the children to be assisted with school fees etc,” Ntombizolile Mosebetsane, Thabiso's widow, told the commission in Pretoria.

“Our last born is three. I can't even afford to buy a doll for the child but some people can afford to pay R18 million for a buffalo. My husband was (a) hard worker and died seeking a better wage.”

The remarks were a reference to Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa's failed bid for a buffalo in 2012, which later fetched R20m.

The African National Congress heavyweight, businessman, and former Lonmin non-executive director later apologised for the bid.

The Mosebetsane family wanted Thabiso's son Katiso to take over his job at Lonmin.

“We are required to do a ceremony for Thabiso's other son Tshepo. We are required to slaughter a cow and we do not have the money.

“According to our beliefs, if we don't perform the ceremony Tshepo may experience difficulties in his life and may not find a job,” the Mosebetsane family submitted in an affidavit to the commission.

The commission, chaired by retired judge Ian Farlam, is investigating the deaths of 44 people during strike-related violence at Lonmin's platinum mining operations at Marikana, near Rustenburg in the North West, in August 2012.

Thirty-four people, mostly striking mineworkers, were shot dead in a clash with police, over 70 were wounded, and over 250 arrested on August 16, 2012. Police were apparently trying to disarm and disperse them.

In the preceding week, 10 people, including two policemen and the two Lonmin security guards, were killed.

On Wednesday, the commission heard presentations by lawyers and families of the 44 deceased.

Mgcineni Noki, also known as Mambush, a leader of the protesting mine workers, was described by his family as “a happy man who never fought”. His late father had also worked in the mines.

“He is now being seen as someone who was leading the workers astray. He wanted the truth and police killed him for it. I know that in South Africa the truth is not wanted. The gentleman who testified yesterday (Ramaphosa) did not say the truth,” Sinovuyo Noki, a cousin of Mambush, said.

“To the mineworkers, you have to be strong but don't turn back on your demands. You better die for what you want. Don't be scared because police are killing you. Be prepared to die. Mambush stood for miners rights,” Noki said.

Mambush was shot dead when violence erupted on August 16. He featured prominently in newspaper photographs and television footage in the build-up to the August 16 confrontation. He became known as “the man wrapped in a green blanket”.

Ramaphosa testified on Monday and Tuesday about his role in the Marikana events. He was repeatedly heckled as he gave evidence.


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