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'Marikana children' still battling with wounds from 2012 massacre

09 November 2018 - 16:24 By Naledi Shange
Crosses mark the koppie at Marikana, North West, where 34 miners were killed in August 2012. (File photo)
Crosses mark the koppie at Marikana, North West, where 34 miners were killed in August 2012. (File photo)
Image: Daniel Born

A lawyer who represented the families of the mineworkers killed during wage-related unrest at Lonmin’s platinum mine in Marikana, North West, in August 2016, on Friday revealed the trauma the families have gone through, with at least one of the miners' children committing suicide.

Without revealing further details on the family, advocate Teboho Mosikili told TimesLIVE that the child was a young teenager.

“She had been complaining about depression and not liking the school she was in,” said Mosikili. “They found her hanging at the school earlier this year.”

She was one of a number of children of the killed Marikana miners that Lonmin has been paying school fees for. Mosikili claimed that the children did not have much of a choice of which schools they were enrolled at.

Many of the children were unhappy about the schools, which the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) said were substandard.

The children also complained of how they had been labelled as the “Marikana children” at these schools.

Mosikili told TimesLIVE that Lonmin had done nothing to change the situation following the child’s suicide.

“That is why, as the Marikana Dignity Trust, we are trying to take over this project to say that whatever funds [Lonmin] is investing in the school, they should give to us, and the parents can choose the schools that they want and we can pay for those schools,” he said. “We are still in those negotiations to take this over,” he added.

Mosikili was speaking to TimesLIVE on the sidelines of the Permanent People's Tribunal on Transitional Corporations, held in Johannesburg.

Friday marked the first day of a three-day program with discussions around dismantling corporate power, with workers from other SADC countries sharing details of their hardships in the workplace.

Also taking to the podium on Friday was Zameka Nungu, whose husband was one of the 34 mineworkers who were gunned down by police during the Marikana protests.

Nungu said she and her three children felt a lot of pain following the death of her husband. “There is no justice,” Nungu said.

“Our husbands were killed like dogs on that mountain but even dogs don’t die like that,” she said, adding that there had been no punishment for the police who opened fire on her husband and his colleagues.

“I am hurt because now I have the label of a widow, which was given to me because of the police,” she said.

Mosikili sad one of the demands that they had put to Lonmin was for the mine to compensate the widows by paying them the salaries that their husbands would have received.

“We fought tooth and nail for Lonmin to pay the salaries of their husbands while they wait for civil claims against the government. But Lonmin said those people should come and step into the shoes of the ones who they lost and that is what the widows did,” he said, adding that Nungu was one of the widows who were now working at Lonmin.

Mosikili spoke of the pain suffered by the children of the miners who, after hearing their fathers were killed at Lonmin, had to deal with the fact that their mothers were now working at that same mine. This while the children were at boarding schools.

“This is triple jeopardy,” he said.

Meanwhile, Nungu told the crowd that she had since received compensation for her loss. The money was however not the amount that she had been promised by government. She was told the shortfall had been the result of an error.

Nungu was waiting for the error to be rectified.