Marikana aftermath – Enmity between miners and NUM

2012-09-01 15:53

“Le NUM sizoyibulala kanjani? Le NUM siyayizonda! (How are we going to kill this NUM? We hate the National Union of Mineworkers!)”

That was the song of Lonmin ­miner Thabiso Thelejane’s colleagues during his funeral at Paballong village outside the Eastern Cape town of Matatiele yesterday.

The group of about a dozen miners danced around Thelejane’s coffin, later replacing the letters NUM with the name of the NUM’s president, Senzeni Zokwana, and a symbol for the police, who shot dead Thelejane and 33 of his colleagues at Lonmin’s Marikana operations two weeks ago.

In the song they were referring to the enmity between the Cosatu-affiliated union and the miners at Marikana after the NUM allegedly failed to represent them and their interests in the run-up to the massacre of the largely breakaway union members.

More than 100 mourners joined the Thelejane family and Lonmin miners at the funeral, one of 31 held across the country yesterday.

In Eastern Cape alone, 18 ­funerals were held yesterday, and two are set to be held today.

Most of the miners who came from the province were very young, aged between 24 and 35. They left behind young wives and very young children.

At 55 years old, Thelejane, a rock-drill operator, was among the oldest.

This father of one was a career mine worker, who had previously worked at the Vaal Reefs mine before moving to Lonmin last year after a brief sojourn at his home on the Drakensberg mountains.

Bulelwa Thunyiswa, the deputy speaker of the Eastern Cape legislature who attended the funeral of miner Mabiya Mafolisi, said government was mourning with the families across the province.

The Mabiya family thanked all the strangers who took their son’s body in, took care of him and brought him home to be buried in peace. They thanked all the outsiders who had lent a hand at this difficult time.

Performance Monitoring and Evaluation Minister Collins Chabane, who is leading the inter-ministerial committee investigating the tragedy, attended the funeral of Themba Gwelani at Makhwaleni, near Lusikisiki in Eastern Cape.

In his speech, Chabane said: “Government took a decision to support all families of the 44 deceased without discrimination. Mr Gwelani was not an employee of Lonmin mine.

“However, his family was still expecting a lot from him. We are with the family and this community in your loss and we will do whatever possible to ensure that support is provided to the family in Mr Gwelani’s absence.”

According to a statement released by the inter-ministerial committee, State Security Minister Siyabonga Cwele attended a funeral in Lusikisiki and Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini attended another in
Matatiele.


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