File picture: Tiro Ramatlhatse/African News Agency (ANA)
File picture: Tiro Ramatlhatse/African News Agency (ANA)

Marikana miner’s widow: We are still waiting for government to apologise

By Siviwe Feketha Time of article published Aug 16, 2020

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Johannesburg - One of the widows of the 34 striking mine workers who were gunned down by police in 2012 in Marikana has decried how the government has continued to refuse to allow justice for the victims of the tragedy, eight years after the massacre took place.

Nonkululeko Ngxande was speaking on behalf of the widows during the 8th Marikana massacre commemoration held by the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) in Midrand, Johannesburg on Sunday.

Ngxande’s husband, Mphumzeni, was among the 34 striking miners of Lomnin mine who were killed by members of the SA Police Service while hiding at what is now called Koppie two.

The workers had been demanding a R12 500 living wage and other improvements to their working conditions.

Dubbed the most lethal use of force by the police in democratic SA, many more miners were left injured.

Following the massacre, the commemoration of the tragedy has in subsequent years been held in Marikana where it took place, but the venue was changed for the first time this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic and imposed regulations on gatherings.

Ngxande, who stayed with her husband at Nkaneng informal settlement where most miners stayed, said she was in the area when the police turned their assault rifles on miners.

“When I heard the sound, it was like hail coming. I felt that something wrong was happening. And it did happen. It is still very painful, and we have not made peace over it,” Ngxande said.

President Cyril Ramaphosa, who was a director for Lomnin Mine during the tragedy and who came under scrutiny for calling for “concomitant” action against the miners during their violent strike which resulted in ten deaths in before the fateful day, has been urged over the years by Amcu, EFF and other individuals and organisations to visit the widows and apologise for the tragedy.

Ngxande said there was no reconciliation over the tragedy between the family and the current government as the families were unhappy by the refusal of those in power to apologise.

“There is no person from the government who came to us and apologised. Apology is the most important thing and we are still waiting that one day God will use the hearts of those in power to come and apologise to us. We will forgive them,” Ngxande said.

Delivering a virtual message of support, UDM leader Bantu Holomisa said those in power within the ANC-led government had the duty to humble themselves before the victims of the Marikana tragedy and speak to the family to ensure that closure over what happened could take place.

“This thing of people dying and there is no one who comes from the government who takes responsibility and apologises is wrong. But they are allowed, they have the time and they must continue,” Holomisa said.

He called on the families of those who were killed during the tragedy to continue their fight for compensation by the government.

One SA Movement leader Mmusi Maimane has slammed how the government has for eight years refused to compensate those affected by the massacre.

“What level of humility is required for them to come down and say that we have all lost in this time and we need to sit down and set justice in motion?” Maimane asked.

Maimane stressed that the event of citizens being massacred by a democratic state for seeking equality and payment should never be forgotten, and called for the Marikana massacre to be declared a public commemorative holiday by the government.

Political Bureau

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