Marikana aftermath – Miners defiant in emotional sendoff

2012-09-01 15:49

Strong winds sent the emotional singing of mine workers echoing through Baroeng village’s beautiful valley yesterday afternoon.

Family, friends and colleagues of those in the Lesotho district of Butha-Buthe gathered yesterday afternoon to bury Khanare Elias Monesa, one of four Basotho men killed during the Marikana killings last month.

The workers, some of them Lesotho nationals, had travelled overnight by taxi from Rustenburg, where most of them work.

“Phambili nge R12 500 phambili!” they roared in unison during the funeral service held in the yard near the two-roomed house

Monesa built for his 23-year-old wife Mathabisile, who is six months pregnant.

With some dressed in full mining gear – overalls, boots, knee caps and helmets – they marched behind the hearse through the rocky streets of the village singing revolutionary songs.

Three of the four Basothonationals killed in the bloodbath were buried in different parts of the mountain kingdom yesterday.

One of them, Molefi Osiel Ntsoele of Semonkong, will be buried next weekend.

Motlohi Maliehe, a member of the Lesotho parliament, described the fallen Basotho men as heroes who had died fighting for their rights.

He said their blood should be a reminder to the rulers of the country that they should create jobs so that their citizens did not have to suffer in neighbouring countries.

Maliehe, who told mourners he was once a National Union of Mineworkers shopsteward in Secunda, Mpumalanga, in the 80s, said the Marikana shootings were a reminder of the brutal apartheid regime of the past that had mercilessly massacred people.

Maliehe criticised the South African Police Service for the manner in which they had handled the strike.

He said the Lesotho government would wait for an explanation from the South African government.

“In my whole life it’s the first time I see people who are trained to kill, who are trained to point their guns at people who are merely throwing stones at them,” he told mourners.

“There was no need for the bloodshed. We saw you sitting on the hill in Marikana, not troubling anyone. You were only carrying sticks that young boys carry when they go to herd cattle.

“We know that a commission has been set up, but if those people in the commission do not come to you to hear what has happened, then it won’t help.

“We thought when South Africa got independence in ‘94 we would be out of trouble, but it seems the problems are still here,” he said.

“Poverty brings problems because if this country was ruled by people with brains in the past, you wouldn’t have to go and be chased around in another country.

“That country is rich today from the sweat of Basotho men. Hopefully, one day, you will work here in your own country and raise your children here,” Maliehe said.

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