Family still counting losses 10 years after Marikana tragedy

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

Nokuthula Zibambele lost her husband in the 2012 Marikana massacre. Picture: 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 the police during a strike over wages, a family continues to count the losses.

The widow of Thobisile Zibambele, who was only 39-years-old when he was killed at scene one at the Wonderkop koppie where the miners had gathered during the strike, said that the pain was still raw.

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

She is among dozens of other women who have had to leave their rural homes in the Eastern Cape, making 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 obvious.

Upon welcoming the Eyewitness News team into the one-bedroom flat at hostel one in Marikana, she immediately buries her face in her hands.

The team assures her that she does not need to go where she isn’t ready to as they asked how life had panned out for the Sizambele family since Thobisile was gunned down at the koppie.

"When schools close, now the children ask 'are you coming back home?' and then I say I can’t come back because I am at work. The youngest one said then it doesn’t make a difference whether he goes home during the holidays or stays at the boarding house because it’s all the same because staying at home with no one there, it’s the same as staying at school. It is not nice at all to leave your home and children," she said.

The only breadwinner, Nokuthula works as a cleaner at Sibanye-Stillwater and said that she was forced to move to the hostel in Marikana.

She is aware that this is no place to raise children but had little choice after her daughter Sandisa, tasked with looking after the children at home, overdosed on pills in 2016. Her pain is palpable.

"That happened because of not having parents because if I was there, I would have seen that the child is not alright. But there was no one there to take care of her or even be aware there was something wrong. I had to get someone to watch over the kids, meaning i would pay more money," Nokuthula explained.

With no community to support her with raising the children like she had in the Eastern Cape, Nokuthula’s small frame shrinks, even more, when she explains the pain of having to close her home in Lusikisiki to keep earning a salary as a cleaner so that she can continue feeding her surviving children.

VIDEO: 'I can't find it in myself to forgive yet'