Worry about missing family members
THE GaRankuwa Magistrate's Court outside Pretoria was a flurry of activities yesterday, hours before the 260 Lonmin miners appeared before Magistrate Essau Bodibeng.
Before the court proceedings, about 150 women made their way to the court in minibus taxis, demanding that their husbands and loved ones be released. They held placards and chanted struggle songs.
Most of the women said they wanted to verify if their loved ones were indeed behind bars. Some of them said they last saw their husbands on Thursday morning when they went to a protest march at the mountain. "I pray to God that I see him in court today, I looked for him everywhere but I cannot find him," said one of the women, Winners Johnny. She said her husband, Matata, was still missing.
"I looked for him at the police stations, mortuaries and hospitals but he was not there. I pray that I see him here today, I fear that I might get a call from somebody informing me that he was found dead. The past few days have been difficult for me and my children. The most painful part is that when my six children ask me about their father's whereabouts, I do not know what to tell them."
She said although her husband has been working at the mine for the past 10 years, he still earned R4000.
Matlaleng Masuhlo, 47, said she believed that her missing relative was still at the mountain and that the police had not found his body yet.
"I believe that there are more bodies on that mountain. We looked for our relative everywhere but could not find him. I think that if he is dead, his body is still somewhere at the mountain. We are pleading with the police to allow us to help them search for the missing people."
The miners, who are facing several charges including murder and public violence, looked tired.
They came to court under heavy police guard and wore dirty clothes, some with blood stains.
The miners' lawyer, Andries Nkome, asked that they be released because they were kept in custody for more than 48 hours, but Bodibeng rejected his request and said it was in the interest of justice that the police be allowed more time to conduct further investigations.
The miners were arrested last Thursday following violent clashes with police. The confrontation left 34 miners dead. Forty-four people, including two policemen, have died since the strike began.
State prosecutor Bafana Tlhagwane said he would oppose bail when they appear in court again due to the seriousness of the matter and that investigations were still underway. He said the state was still in the process of formulating the charges.
Outside the court, suspended ANCYL spokesman Floyd Shivambu said the community of Marikana will open a case of murder against the police. "We feel that the police must take responsibility. They must prove in court that they killed those people in self-defence, we cannot just assume. I also think that postponing the case while keeping them in custody is unfair. They need to go home and bury their colleagues," he said.
Shivambu said Friends of the Youth League organised the miners' defence and will take care of the finances. "We were given a mandate by the community," he said.
The case was postponed to next week Monday.