The Widows of Marikana:
The wife of Thabiso Thelejane who was a 56 year-old contract worker when he was killed on 16 August 2012 at “Scene One” at Marikana, Makopano lives in Pabalong in the Eastern Cape. Lonmin initially refused to accept her
compensation claims for loss of earnings because her husband was employed by a sub-contractor. After years of wrangling, her son was finally accepted to replace his father at Marikana — he currently supports her.
Mary’s husband, Julius Langa was a production team leader at Saffy Shaft in Marikana. He was killed by striking workers on the way to work on 11 August at 3am in the morning. This after Lonmin had made repeated calls for its
mineworkers to report for work in the preceding day. She is from Tonga in Mpumalanga.
Then a mother of four, Nolundi Thukuza was five months pregnant when she heard the news that her husband, Mphangeli Thukuza had been shot dead by police at Marikana’s “Scene One” on 16 August 2012. She is from Ngqeleni inthe Eastern Cape.
Nokuthula Zibambele is the widow of Thobisile Zimbambele, a 39 year-old rock-drill operator who was killed at Marikana’s “Scene One” on 16 August 2012. She currently works as a cleaner at Sibanye-Stillwater (who bought out
Lonmin’s Marikana operation in 2019) and supports her extended family with her salary. She is from Lusikisiki in the Eastern Cape.
Makopano Sompeta is the the sister of rock-drill operator Mzukisi Sompeta, who was 37 years-old when he was shot dead at Marikana’s “Scene One” on 16 August 2012. Makopano’s father suffered a heart-attack while watching news footage of Marikana less than two months after his son’s death. She is from Lusikisiki in the Eastern Cape.
Betty Gadlela is from Manzini district, Swaziland. She left school in Grade Five and later married Stelega Gadlela with whom she had five children. Stelega was a 50-year-old production team leader when he was killed by police at “Scene Two” at Marikana. Betty Gadlela currently works in the underground mining operations at Marikana.
Zameka Nungu is the wife of Jackson Lehupa, a rock-drill operator who was killed by police at “Scene One” on 16 August 2012. Currently working at Marikana as a cleaner at Sibanye-Stillwater, Zameka supports six children and is from Matatiele in the Eastern Cape.
Ntombizolile’s husband, Thabiso Mosebetsane, was killed at “Scene Two” at Marikana on 16 August 2012 – his wounds suggested he had been murdered by police. From Matatiele in the Eastern Cape, Ntombizolile works as a cleaner at Sibanye-Stillwater in Marikana.
The wife of Bongani Nqongophele who was killed at “Scene One” on 16 August 2012, Nombulelo is from Elliotdale in the Eastern Cape. She is currently working at Sibanye-Stillwater’s Marikana operation and lives in Mooi Nooi, close to Marikana.
Ntombilelile Saphendu’s brother, Fezile David Saphendu was just 24-years-old when he was shot dead at Marikana’s “Scene Two” on 16 August 2012. He had been employed at Lonmin since 2009, working in the general production unit at Four Belt Shaft. Ntombi remembers her brother, who supported her and their mother, as a devout Christian with a playful sense of humour.
Songstress Nkonyeni is the sister of Phumzile Sokanyile, a 48-year-old striking mineworker who was killed by police in a skirmish on 13 August 2012 which left two other mineworkers and two policemen dead. The fatal violence had been triggered, unprovoked, by police. Songstress’s mother died on hearing the news of her son’s death and they buried together. She is from Ndamazulu in the Eastern Cape.
Xolelwa Mpumza is the sister of Thobile Mpumza who was 26 years-old when he was killed at Marikana’s “Scene Two” on 16 August 2012. Thobile had been dismissed by Lonmin in 2011 and his family have struggled to receive just compensation for the financial support he provided as a mechanic working in Marikana. She is from Gugwini Village near Mount Ayliff in the Eastern Cape.
Paul Botes is the picture editor of the Mail & Guardian and The Continent. He has won numerous local and international awards for his work, including The Contemporary African Photography Prize, Abdul Shariff Prize for Humanistic Photography, Standard Bank Sikuvile Awards, Vodacom Journalism Award and has been nominated for the Joop Swart Masterclass twice. His work focuses primarily on issues of social justice and inequality. Paul also teaches at The Market Photo Workshop and runs an intern programme that works with students from a variety of schools from all over the world.
Zodwa Skeyi-Tutani is an artist, writer and curator inspired by and based in the Eastern Cape, South Africa. She has curated Zundiqondisise! Reclaiming Our Voices (2018) at the Steve Biko Centre in Ginsberg, The Mute Always Speaks – A Performative Response (2018) at Rhodes University’s Afems Conference, Ingoma Ka Tiyo (2019) for the National Arts Festival in Makhanda and Inertia “Ubungeyo Mpazamo/Elwandle/Nithi Ngubani Na LoMakhanda?” (2021) for the National Arts Festival. Her work involves the use of the curatorial as a ‘thinking-out-loud’ process of attending to colonial memory/trauma by re-visiting the histories of the Eastern Cape, specifically through the voices of its mothers and grand-mothers. She is a Rhodes University MFA graduate in Curatorial Studies and has completed an MA Degree in Creative Writing in 2021 at Rhodes University. She is currently pursuing her PhD in Fine Arts (Curatorial) at Wits University and is a full-time lecturer at the University of Fort Hare focusing on Museum Studies and Philosophy of Art.
A Ruth First Fellow and a Heinrich Boell Journalism Fellow, Niren Tolsi is an award-winning South African journalist based in Johannesburg. He has an interest in transitioning investigative journalism into the art space and co-curated The Con(struction) Cartel exhibition in collaboration with Peter McKenzie and the Durban Centre of Photography. This was exhibited at the Goethe Institute in Johannesburg in 2016. In 2020 he collaborated on Sounding the Land, which premiered at that year’s National Arts Festival in Makhanda.
Niren worked at the Mail & Guardian for several years, was the Times Media Group’s Deputy Legal Editor and a researcher at the Socio-Economic Rights Institute. He has been published in the Sunday Times, City Press, Al Jazeera, NewsClick in India, Reportagen in Switzerland and the UK’s Guardian newspaper. He was a co-founding editor of The Con, a now defunct online literary and long-form publication produced in Johannesburg between 2013 and 2017.
His areas of interest include citizen mobilisation and protest, state violence, constitutional law, social justice, the arts, jazz music, Test cricket and football.