Untimely death of a reluctant striker

2012-08-18 18:45

He didn’t really want to join his colleagues at a mass meeting on a hill near Nkaneng informal settlement on Thursday.

But, in the end, he decided to go because, although he was not a rock drill operator, he had been intimidated, like many others, into joining the strike.

And with Lonmin threatening to dismiss the strikers if they did not return to work, he was worried and needed to find out if there was an end in sight to the strike.

He parked his car near the entrance to the hostel at Lonmin’s Karee mine, left his wife and their one-year-old child, and walked the short distance to where thousands of workers were gathered.

Late that afternoon, clashes between the striking miners and police ensued, leaving 34 people dead, 78 injured and 275 in jail.

Back home in Nkaneng that night, his wife and cousin Charlotte worried about his safety when he did not return home.

They prayed that, perhaps, like many of the men from the area, he had fled until calm returned, or was in jail, or maybe in hospital.

On Friday afternoon, Charlotte joined scores of women who gathered on a field not far from where the shoot-out had unfolded, hoping for word of their loved ones.

Then, yesterday morning, the search came to a bitter end at the government mortuary in Phokeng.

His bloodied body was found among piles of other bodies, presumably victims of Thursday afternoon’s shooting.

“He is gone,” said Charlotte.

“At least we know what has happened to him now. But his wife is devastated. She has lost someone she loved. He was a good man who loved his family.”

He was not even 30. He was a young man in his mid-20s whose parents had died. All he wanted was to raise his family.

And whether Lonmin accedes to the workers’ demands for a pay rise to the tune of R12 500, he will not be there to celebrate with rest of the workers, and his son will no longer receive his love and warmth.

» The man’s family declined to name him, fearing reprisals

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