Marikana: ‘Man in the green blanket was a rabble-rouser'

2015-08-16 17:49
Mgcineni Noki, the ‘Man in the Green Blanket’, addresses striking Lonmin workers just hours before 34 miners were shot dead in clashes with police. Picture: Leon Sadiki/City Press

Mgcineni Noki, the ‘Man in the Green Blanket’, addresses striking Lonmin workers just hours before 34 miners were shot dead in clashes with police. Picture: Leon Sadiki/City Press

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Retired Judge Ian Farlam’s Marikana report has painted an unpleasant picture of Mgcineni Noki, “the man in the green blanket”.

The 30-year-old Lonmin rock drill operator led the violence-marred wage strike three years ago.

Testimonies – particularly that of faceless police witness Mr X as cited in the report – have placed Noki at a number of scenes where people were attacked and killed.

Also known as “Mambush” – a name he got for his good soccer skills – Noki is mentioned at least 67 times, more than any other miner, in Farlam’s report.

Farlam has made recommendations for the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) to look into incidents where miners have allegedly attacked and killed people to determine whether there is a basis for prosecution.

Noki died in a hail of bullets in Marikana on August 16 2012.

The Farlam Commision was told that Noki asked the police to sign a piece of paper and agree with miners that “we are going to kill each other today”.

This was one of the reasons he was also portrayed as an instigator during the strike he led. His family has always denied this, saying to them he was the “most humble” person but they noted the leadership skills he had. His cousin, Mbulelo Noki, said a few days after the Marikana tragedy that “Mambush was brave but a pacifier. All he wanted was for workers’ issues to be addressed. He died while fighting for other workers’ rights”.

Police, however, potrayed him as a bloodthirsty rabble-rouser. One officer told the commission that Noki warned that “these hippos would not leave this place and you will all die today”.

For striking miners, Noki is a hero. He went on to become the face of the Lonmin strike together with his trademark green blanket.

Testimony was heard in the commission that miners chose him as a leader – and also to be strengthened with muti more than others during rituals performed on some strikers – because he was brave and strong.

At 30, he commanded respect from the men, most of whom were older than him.

He was also seen as the brave one who would walk to the police and engage them, talking through the window of a Nyala on behalf of striking workers.

Noki also negotiated with the police on behalf of a group of about 200 men which he was leading to the Nkaneng mountain. They agreed that police would escort them to join others at the mountain but minutes later, a confrontation occurred and two police officers and three miners lay dead at the end of it.

Noki was killed together with 15 others in the notorious scene which sent shockwaves and made headlines globally.

With the Farlam report now out, it remains to be seen who will be charged.

Read more on:    marikana

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