His first name was Stelega, a word Swazi language speakers use to describe a strike.
Tragically ironic, then, that Stelega Eric Gadlela (50) was shot by police during a strike by miners at Marikana.
Gadlela hailed from the rural village of Dvokolwako, about 60km from the city of Manzini, Swaziland.
He left the kingdom in 1982 to search for work in South Africa, and had various mining jobs before settling at Lonmin in 1989. He worked hard to achieve the position of team leader.
The father of 11 children, aged between four and 28, Gadlela was his large family’s sole breadwinner.
“He was our only hope. He was responsible for everything in the house,” said Hlengiwe (28), Gadlela’s eldest daughter. “Whenever he was on leave, he spoke about building us a bigger house.” The family shares a four-roomed home.
Betty, Gadlela’s wife, could not talk to this reporter as Swazi culture forbids her to while she is in mourning.
Hlengiwe said her father had phoned to update the family about the strike shortly before he died. He had told her the situation was getting tense and that helicopters and police had been deployed to the mine.
“They should have dismissed him rather than killing him like that,” she said. – Sizwe Yende