South Africa on Saturday buried most of the 34 mineworkers killed by police last month in the worst crackdown on protests since apartheid.
Twenty-six of the 34 miners killed when police sprayed bullets on a group of striking miners at Lonmin platinum mine on August 16 were being buried this weekend in various parts of the country, according to a schedule issued by government.
Meanwhile, lawyers are demanding the release of 270 surviving miners who have been charged with their colleagues’ murder under a law used by the former apartheid regime.
The majority of the killed miners came from the Eastern Cape province, where among funerals held was one in Mdumazulu village for a 48-year-old miner and his mother who collapsed at the news of his death.
Thousands of relatives, workmates and friends of Phumzile Sokhanyile had gathered under a white tent to mourn his and his mother’s passing.
The miner’s 79-year-old mother, Glorious Mamkhuzeni-Sokhanyile — who suffered from asthma and hypertension — fainted when she first learnt of the death of her son two days after the killings, a family member said.
But it was the images of the police opening fire on the miners a day later on television news that sent her to her death, the miner’s aunt Thokozile Sokhanyile, told AFP.
“She saw the images and went ‘Ah! That’s how my son was killed?’ and she collapsed,” the aunt recounted, adding that she was taken to hospital where she was pronounced dead on arrival.
On Saturday, only the mother’s coffin lay in front with a wreath on top, while Phumzile’s remains were buried on Friday as soon they were received by the family, according to rites in cases where a person dies of unnatural causes.
The body was not even allowed anywhere near his family home, and was taken straight to a cemetery, in the belief that it will ward off bad omen in future.