Family still counts losses 10 years after Marikana tragedy

Nokuthula Zibambele said her life and that of their 10 children had changed for the worse since that fateful day on August 16, 10 years ago.

Nokuthula Zibambele lost her husband in the Marikana massacre in 2012. Photo: Abigail Javier/Eyewitness News

MARIKANA – As South Africa and the international community reflect on the horror that was the Marikana massacre when 34 men were killed by police during a pay strike, a family continues to count the losses.

The widow of Thobisile Zibambele, who was just 39 when he was killed in the first scene of the koppie Wonderkop where miners had gathered during the strike, said the pain was still raw.

Nokuthula Zibambele said her life and that of their 10 children had changed for the worse since that fateful day on August 16, 10 years ago.

She is among dozens of other women who have had to leave their rural homes in the Eastern Cape, to make the long journey to Marikana where they are now employed by the mine as part of a settlement agreement.

Nokuthula Zibambele’s apprehension about revisiting the trauma of her husband’s death is evident.

By welcoming the Eyewitness News team in the one-bedroom apartment at Hostel 1 in Marikana, she immediately buried her face in her hands.

The team assures her that she does not need to go where she is not ready as they asked how life has been for the Sizambele family since Thobisile was shot on the koppie.

“When the schools close, now the kids ask ‘are you coming home?’ and then I say I can’t come back because I’m at work The youngest then said it doesn’t matter if he goes home on vacation or stays at boarding school because it’s the same because that he stays at home without anyone, it’s like staying in school. It’s not pleasant at all to leave your house and your children, ”she said.

The sole breadwinner, Nokuthula works as a cleaner in Sibanye-Stillwater and said she was forced to move to Marikana’s hostel.

She is aware it is no place to raise children, but was left with no choice after her daughter Sandisa, the caretaker at home, overdosed on pills in 2016. His pain is palpable.

“It happened because I had no parents because if I was there I would have seen that the child was not well. But there was no one to take care of her or even knowing that something was wrong. I had to call someone to watch the kids, which meant I would pay more money,” Nokuthula explained.

Without a community to support her in raising children like she had in the Eastern Cape, Nokuthula’s small stature shrinks even further as she explains the pain of having to close her home in Lusikisiki to continue earning a salary of housekeeper so that she can continue to feed her surviving children.

VIDEO: “I can’t find the courage to forgive within me yet”



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