Side by side at the rock of death
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Ntombizolile Mosebetsane has mixed feelings about how she is going to handle her visit on Sunday to the Koppie at Marikana, where her husband Thabiso was gunned down by the police three years ago.
She knows she needs to be there when hundreds of people descend on the infamous rocky outcrop to mark the third anniversary of the Marikana massacre, in which 34 striking miners were shot dead and 78 others were injured.
Mosebetsane, 39, of Matatiele in the Eastern Cape, said going to the hill would bring back sad memories of that day, but it would also be a good way to pay tribute to her husband.
“I will be praying to connect with him. I want his spirit to shine and protect our family. It has been difficult without him around,” she said.
Mosebetsane is one of the widows who were employed by Lonmin after the death of their husbands. She said being in Marikana was a constant and painful reminder of her husband’s death. Their six children continue to struggle without their father.
“Life has changed dramatically for us all. I had no idea I would be forced to work for the survival of our children because my husband always provided for us,” she said.
Mosebetsane believes the police officers should be punished for their actions. But she has little faith in the justice system after the Farlam Commission blamed the miners for the tragedy.
“I don’t think there will be action taken against them since the president is protecting the national police commissioner,” she said.
The Socio-Economic Rights Institute (Seri) attorney, Kathleen Hardy, who represents the families, said they were claiming compensation for the loss of financial support, grief and emotional shock, medical, psychological and psychiatric treatment, and their loss of family life.
The families also want an apology from the Minister of Police, Nathi Nhleko. According to Hardy, the civil suit should be unnecessary after the Marikana commission spent more than two years finding out what was already clear in the video.
“The SAPS are responsible for causing these deaths,” she said.
Mosebetsane is worried that today’s pilgrimage might be too much for her to bear, but she is counting on her friends to be at her side every step of the way.