The faces of Marikana: Part IV

Thanduxolo Jika, Nicki Güles, Sizwe Sama Yende
2012-09-08 18:20
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Mphangeli Thukuza Mphangeli Thukuza

It’s been seven years since 34 mineworkers were shot dead in a burst of police gunfire during a protest at the then Lonmin Platinum’s Marikana operations. Ten people, including security guards and police officers, were killed in the run-up to the mass shootings at two sites around a koppie where workers had gathered during their strike, demanding a minimum salary of R12 500 a month.Much has been said and written about what has become known as the Marikana Massacre, and a commission of inquiry was set up to find out exactly what happened. But there were journalists on the ground when it all went down. This is how they reported on the Marikana Massacre in August 2012.This week City Press went back to Marikana. Read our feature on this ghostly mining town in Sunday’s print edition.

Mphangeli Thukuza (42)

In the small Transkei village of Nquba, Mphangeli had a big reputation. He was a respected Pondo man with two wives and six children living in a beautiful village home.

Local men speak of Mphangeli’s charm and smooth talking – especially with women.

He earned respect as he was able to provide for his large family and was working towards buying a car. His three brothers sang his praises.

“He was a good man and worked hard. Those two wives, whom he loved dearly, are really hurting,” said brother Jamela Thukuza.

“He did everything for them with his own money and all that is gone. It is painful because we have also lost a brother and our father has lost a son. We fear his death may have brought poverty to his house,” said Jamela.

Mphangeli’s brothers also work on mines in North West.

They demand that a relative continue their brother’s legacy by taking his job as an operator at Lonmin.

– Thanduxolo Jika

Hassan Duncan Fundi (46)

Hassan Fundi was one of the security guards working for Lonmin. He was killed five days before police opened fire on the protesting miners.

Hassan’s wife, Aisha, with whom he lived in a suburb of Rustenburg, told City Press this week that she could not reveal any information about her husband, or provide a picture of him, before a family meeting to be held at the weekend.

However, according to reports at the time, Hassan and his colleague, Frans Matlhomola Mabelane, were burned to death on the Saturday and mine officials only discovered their bodies the following Monday.

One of them had been reportedly shot dead – five times in his upper body – allegedly by striking mine workers, and the other had been hacked.

– Nicki Güles

Sello Lepaaku (45)

Warrant Officer Sello was allegedly hacked to death by striking Lonmin workers.

He was buried at Seabo Village in Siyabuswa, Mpumalanga, on August 19.

Sello’s family and his widow, Petunia, were too grief-stricken to speak to City Press.

However, at his funeral, National Police Commissioner Riah Phiyega described him as a hero and a “dedicated officer with integrity”.

His commanding officer said he was a disciplined, quiet man who worked hard.

Sello, a policeman of 24 years’ standing, was attached to the public order policing unit at Phokeng, North West.

His family battled to retain their composure at the grave site during the officer’s salute and even Phiyega shed tears.

– Sizwe Sama Yende

Tsietsi Monene (47)

Career police officer Tsietsi reportedly died from gashes all over his body and two holes in his chest. His face had been hacked, allegedly by miners.

Tsietsi, a warrant officer with 21 years’ experience, was connected to the Mpumalanga public order policing unit.

His unnamed cousin – who spoke at the funeral of Warrant Officer Sello Lepaaku, with whom Tsietsi died – said he had been told by a police officer that Tsietsi died because his colleagues had been too far away to help him.

“A policeman who was in the Nyala (with Tsietsi’s group) told me he had to fight to keep the door closed because they wanted to come in and kill him too,” The Star reported the cousin saying.

Tsietsi leaves behind five children – aged between 12 and 23 – and a grandson. He is survived by his wife, also a police officer, his mother, a brother and a sister.

– Nicki Güles

Makhosandile Mkhonjwa (29)

Makhosandile Mkhonjwa
Makhosandile Mkhonjwa

Makhosandile toiled in the mines to realise his one dream: to build his family a beautiful home in Madiba Village in Mbizana in the Eastern Cape.

Makhosandile cared for a family of 10 people, including his two children who are still at school.

His wife, Nokwanela Phakathi, said he was going to build a house for the family – including his mother – as their traditional rondavels could no longer withstand heavy rains and extreme weather.

She had no idea how they were going to survive now that he was dead.

“Things were tough even when he was still alive, but we could survive. We are left with nothing. We buried his father in March and now it is him. There is no man to take care of the family. They have taken the only person we were relying on,” said Nokwanela.

Makhosandile left his village in 2007, only kilometres away from the village home of struggle icon Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, in search of a job at the mines.

The barren rooms of the family’s home tells its own story of a history of daily struggles.

Makhosandile was a staunch churchgoer who, says his family, was loving, kind and never got involved in violence.

– Thanduxolo Jika

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