It’s time to remember ubuntu

2012-09-08 09:08

Six reporters from City Press and Media 24 Investigations crossed South Africa, Swaziland and Lesotho to find out more about the 44 men who died at Marikana.

The humanity of the men had become lost in the vast scale of the tragedy; and for the past two weeks, we have been searching for the faces and personalities behind the body count.

What the writers returned with were stories about the very many more lives which were shattered by the shooting, and during the days leading up to it.

In Mdumazulu village in the Transkei, Phumzile Sokhanyile’s mother collapsed and died when she heard that her son had been killed.

In Nqabara near the Eastern Cape town of Dutywa, a family of 15 lost their only breadwinner when Mongezeleli Ntenetya was killed.

The rock-drill operator cared for his mother, his wife, his three children and his eight younger siblings.

In the Swazi village of Kadvokolwako, Stelega Gadlela’s wife and 11 children, aged between 4 and 28, have had added misery heaped upon them by the poverty they now face.

Most of the families we interviewed spoke of the decent homes that their lost husbands and fathers had been saving for and had dreamed of building for them.

Homes which would have replaced the weather-beaten shacks and rondavels many of them will now have to continue living in indefinitely.

Aside from the hunger which will surely result from the deaths of the 44 miners, security guards and police officers killed at Marikana, many of those who depended on them have also lost an opportunity for a decent life.

These include the sister of Mvuyisi Pato, for whom he put money aside every month to pay her fees at Fort Hare University in Eastern Cape.

The impact of what happened at Marikana will be felt for decades to come and it is our responsibility as citizens of the country to remember that and to help those the miners left behind.

In the turmoil that followed the shooting, many have circled like vultures with little but their own interests at heart.

We hope that today they will read these stories and remember the price that was paid at Marikana and that they, like the good and decent people of our country, will find it within themselves to act and assist the families left behind.

If ever there was a time to remember our ubuntu, our collective humanity, that time is now.

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