Mother of Mr X: ‘I know my son is going to die’

2014-06-29 15:00

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The mother of the police’s key witness at the Marikana Commission of Inquiry believes that her son is as good as dead.

“I know he’s going to die. There is no way he can come back here and think he will live a normal life again,” said the elderly woman who gave birth to the man known across South Africa as Mr X.

His grisly descriptions of muti rituals and murders have shocked those following the commission. But his mother, who lives in a small village in the Eastern Cape, said she had neither seen nor heard any of his testimony because she didn’t have electricity for a TV.

She spoke to City Press from her small home on a slope overlooking the majestic rolling hills of the Eastern Cape. Both her identity and the name of her village are being protected, as the commission has ordered that Mr X may not be identified in any way.

Her neighbours, though, know exactly who Mr X is.

His mother told City Press: “Someone asked me if I had heard what this Mr X has had to say. She [the neighbour] said she recognised his voice and she told me the things that he has been saying. Everyone seems to know who he is. She also told me that there might be people who want to hurt us. But what have we done? We’ve never been to Johannesburg. I don’t even know what happened there or what he’s even saying.”

She realised that her son’s testimony had put both him and quite possibly her in harm’s way. After welcoming City Press into her humble home and fetching two plastic chairs for her visitors, her first words were: “I thought you came to kill me.”

She said her son was like any other boy in the village: he herded cows and played soccer. Sometimes she referred to him as “my baby”, though he is now in his 40s.

“I last saw him in 2012 and he was talking about other miners not being happy about him staying a [National ­Union of Mineworkers] member.

“He said they threatened him because he would not join the new union. That’s when he disappeared,” she said, staring into the distance.

She didn’t think she would ever see her son again.

“The day he returns, he is a dead man. People here are not happy that he is doing this. What the police did to those miners was wrong and he is now testifying for them. It doesn’t matter if these miners went to sangomas or whatever, the police had no right to gun down so many people. How many police officers died that day? It was 34 to zero.”

Without the money she used to receive from her son, she survives on her government grant. Her garden is lush and green and her hands are weathered from the sun and soil.

After her harsh words for the police, she was gentle with her one-year-old grandson (not Mr X’s child). When the child quietened down, she continued:?“It makes me sick to think that this man they are talking about is my son. And it hurts me that I’ll never see my son again. This is all wrong.”

In a nearby village, Mr X’s great-aunt said she missed him too.

She described him as a gentle, generous man.

“The last Christmas we were with him was probably two years ago and he brought gifts for everyone. That’s how he has always been. That’s the kind of man he was.”

They spoke on the phone just more than a month ago.

“He told me he was in police custody and he might never come home again. But when I tried to call the number again, it had been disconnected.”

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