Miners’ families shattered by bloody images

2014-03-16 14:00

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Makopano Thelejane was told that her husband Thabiso was fighting with security guards when he was shot dead at Lonmin’s Marikana mine on August 16 2012.

This week, she learnt the truth: “He was only running away.

He didn’t even have a weapon on him. There was no reason for them to shoot him.”

Thelejane was at the Marikana Commission of Inquiry on Wednesday when a photograph of her dead husband was shown during cross-examination of the police’s Major General Ganasen Naidoo.

It emerged that at least four miners shot on a second, smaller koppie were trying to surrender.

“I saw the picture, which showed how much he bled. There was so much blood close to his body. There was no way he could have survived that.

“Ever since I saw the pictures, I’ve had a pain in my heart,” she said.

“The revelations that he was not fighting with anyone?–?instead, he was running away from them – have hurt me more deeply than seeing his bloody body. I don’t understand why they would do that to someone who was running away. They wanted to kill him.

“We were first told that he was fighting with security and that’s why he was shot. But [lawyer Dumisa] Ntsebeza finally made them see that he was only running away. He didn’t even have a weapon on him. There was no reason for them to shoot him,” said Thelejane.

In another room in the Pretoria hotel where the dead miners’ families are staying during the commission, Luvo Pato was still shaken by the picture he saw of his brother Mvuyisi on Wednesday.

“The commissioner [Judge Ian Farlam] said that those who would be uncomfortable with the pictures should leave,” Pato said.

“I wanted to see my brother because the last time I saw him was when he left for work at the mine.

“When his body arrived at home for his funeral, the family elders decided that the young people would not be allowed to see his body.

“They said he was too badly injured for us to see him.

“But I’m older now. I thought I would be able to face him in that situation,” he said.

“When I saw his pictures on the screen, I couldn’t recognise his face at first but I knew his clothes.

“I knew the top he was wearing, I knew the pants he was wearing. I knew it was him.

“I didn’t think that I would cry but I did for a brief moment.

“I didn’t know that seeing him like that lying on the ground would hurt so much.

“I will never forget that picture. It will stay with me,” said Pato.

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