Week Six: The Marikana Widows

In addition to my incredible adventure in Komatipoort and Freedom Park, this weekend I also attended a meeting with the Marikana widows. As I mentioned briefly in a previous post, we are working with the families whose husbands were killed in 2012. They were killed simply because they were striking in order to have the opportunity to speak with management.  Instead, security forces opened fire upon the group of mine workers, and over 50 were killed. 

Khulumani has helped these widows organize and speak up against Lonmin, the large multinational mining company responsible for these deaths. Khulumani has created a book called “Plough Back the Fruits” which are collections of artwork and stories about the tragedy that changed the lives of each of these women. Recently, two of these widows were invited to speak in Europe on behalf of the group. We are trying to gain international support and put pressure on Lonmin not only to provide the promised reparations to these families, but to change their practices.  Further, we are approaching the issue from the legal side as well and have been in touch with lawyers from Wits.

On Saturday, we drove to Marikana to meet these widows. This was the first time I was able to see the horrible living conditions of those in this mining town. Most of the roads are not paved and nearly every worker lives in an informal settlement (which consist of “houses” made from scrap metal and lack running water).

The meeting itself was very interesting too. Although, it was in Afrikaans so I understood very little of what was being said. Nonetheless I am quite glad to have been included! 

These past few days I have seen quite a bit of South Africa. I was able to stay at Dr. Jobson home for two nights in a beautiful small town with mountains and a lake. On our way home, we went at a lion park and even though it was closed, I was still able to see three beautiful lions. On our way to Komatipoort, we stopped at a rest stop which had a watering hole behind it. There were so many different animals there including zebras, Rhinos, buffalo and ostrich. In other words, it has been an incredible few days.