Community buries baby who died during protests: 'She died for our struggle

2019-07-06 10:38
The coffin of four-month-old Alunamda is taken by Macebo Tshitshiko from the family home to the graveyard. Her mother, Akhona (in white)  follows behind.(Velani Ludidi, GroundUp)

The coffin of four-month-old Alunamda is taken by Macebo Tshitshiko from the family home to the graveyard. Her mother, Akhona (in white) follows behind.(Velani Ludidi, GroundUp)

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Four-month-old Alunamda Mncedane was laid to rest in the Delft cemetery, reports GroundUp.

The death certificate says she died of natural causes. But many people in the community do not accept this.

Alunamda died during a service delivery protest in Marikana, Philippi, 10 days ago. Teargas, fired by police in pursuit of protesters, entered her mother's shack.

The community came out in numbers for the funeral on Thursday. Marikana, usually a noisy place with people chattering and music blasting from loudspeakers, was solemn and quiet.

The funeral service was held at the family home - a cold, two-roomed shack which had holes in the structure and no electricity.

The community chipped in and a burial company covered the costs of the funeral as the family could not afford to bury the infant.

ALSO READ: Mother mourns 2-week-old baby girl who died during Zwelihle protests

Silent and tearful

The bereft mother, Akhona, who is 16, was silent and tearful throughout the service. When the coffin was lowered, she broke down. Her parents had to hold her as she threw a spade of soil into the grave.

Nomzamo Mncedane, Akhona's sister, told the mourners: "There was a strong smell of teargas. Our mother was called and she tried to see if the baby was still breathing, with no luck."

Community leader Melikhaya Laphi blamed the Western Cape province.

"We will continue fighting for services to come in Marikana. Alunamda should be treated as an icon because she died during a struggle of our people. We are waiting for a reply [on demands for services] from the City since our last meeting. If it is unsatisfactory, we are going back to the streets," he said.

Family spokesperson Phathilizwe Mncedane said they wanted an autopsy.

"The detective said there were no signs of injuries on the body and that it might be that she died from cold. We never met the doctor at the mortuary and whenever we asked for the cause of death we were told to speak to the detective handling the case."

Previously, police spokesperson Captain Frederick van Wyk had told GroundUp: "A post mortem will be conducted to determine the cause of death."

Police directed GroundUp to the Department of Health. GroundUp is still awaiting a response.

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Read more on:    cape town  |  protests
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