Baby Mihle Yona, only 21 days’ old, suckles on his mother in Maqhusha village near Lady Frere in the Eastern Cape, not knowing that he will grow up without a father.
But the infant’s mother, Nandipha, knows all too well she will never see her beloved husband again. The last time she saw Bonginkosi was in a mortuary near Lonmin’s Marikana mine in Rustenburg.
“He was only seven days old when his father was killed,” said Nandipha, staring down at her baby. The couple have another son, five-year-old Babalo.
Bonginkosi was a 32-year-old rock drill operator who had worked at the Lonmin mine for just over two years before he was shot. He was a pastor of the local church, and members filled his extended mud home, beating drums and singing to remember him and to mourn with Nandipha.
The “stern yet forever-helpful” Bonginkosi grew up in Ngcobo in the Eastern Cape, and moved to Lady Frere before he became a teenager. After he married Nandipha, the couple moved in with his sickly mother, who passed away last year.
Nandipha says her husband’s dream was to watch his children grow and make something of themselves: “He was a selfless man who said he didn’t want to die with his children so young. I can’t see things getting any better from here. We have no one left. I don’t know what I will do.” – Athandiwe Saba