'Emotional' Marikana cleansing ceremony

2013-06-17 20:25
(File: Sapa)

(File: Sapa)

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Johannesburg - A cleansing ceremony held in Marikana on Monday by the families of those killed during illegal strikes at Lonmin's platinum mine was successful and emotional, the Bojanala Platinum district municipality said.

"The ceremony was extremely emotional and the families broke down terribly for about an hour," spokesman Archie Babeile said.

"They were coming here for the first time since the massacre in August and it was quite difficult for them to come back to the area where they lost their family members."

Babeile said the ceremony was expected to start at 04:00 with the ritual and cultural practices but due to logistics it started after 06:00.

Families were booked into a hotel in Pretoria where they were attending the Farlam Commission of Inquiry into the deaths of 44 people in Marikana, he said.

On 16 August, police shot dead 34 miners at Marikana. A further 10 people, including two policemen and two security guards, were killed during the violent strike in the preceding week.

Forty of the 44 families attended the cleansing ceremony.

"The ritual went successfully well... The families went out to the field where the tragedy occurred and slaughtered the sheep there," said Babeile.

"The cleansing ceremony was not only for the miners but for all those who died in Marikana in August. The families said they were not hurt because their family members died but how they died."

The slaughtering of sheep and various rituals performed by each family in terms with their different cultures lasted about four hours, he said.

Babeile said there were families who requested to perform the rituals at the exact place where their family members died and not on the koppie.

The municipality arranged for the ceremony to take place on the koppie and told the families that if they wanted to come back at a later stage they could, he said.

"They raised the concern late and there were no plans to go to those areas but instead the municipality made a commitment that should they wish to perform rituals later they should let us know and we will assist."

To ensure that the ceremony did not turn into a political platform no union T-shirts were allowed and white T-shirts were given to the families.

White doves were released by the families as a sigh of peace and reconciliation, he said.

"The families regarded this as a means of closure," said Babeile.

"The families indicated that they are happy that something was being done to heal the scars which are hugely visible within their hearts."

- SAPA

Read more on:    mahikeng  |  marikana anniversary
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