A BIRTHDAY MARKING THREE YEARS AFTER MARIKANA
Mihle Yona turned three last week. He was just a week old when his father, Bonginkosi, was shot three times in the back on the Marikana koppie. City Press met Mihle when he was just three weeks old, after his mother Nandipha took him home to Maqhusha village near Lady Frere in the Eastern Cape.
She was cradling him closely in their three-room home as church members sang in the next room before Bonginkosi’s funeral, trying to comfort the family.
While she wept, telling City Press how lost she was without her husband, little Mihle didn’t make a sound.
Today Nandipha works as a cleaner for Lonmin and the healthy, active little boy and his mother live in Marikana. Mihle doesn’t yet know that his father was killed not far from his new home at the Lonmin living quarters.
He was treated to two birthday cakes – one from his mother and the other from a family friend. His Marikana home was packed with laughing children carrying little paper plates and cups and smearing cake on each other’s faces.
Gift wrap and bags were strewn near the kitchen as Mihle unwrapped his presents. He received a plastic soccer ball, a toy truck, balloons, gift vouchers and cards. He didn’t like the kisses he received from his aunties.
“I haven’t told him anything yet about what happened to his father. He’s still too young. He just sees the sun rising and setting and then it’s bedtime,” said Nandipha as she watched Mihle play with his friends.
But she knows that she will have to explain to him what happened and she dreads that day. Her older son, Babalo, is in Grade 2 and lives with her family in the Eastern Cape. He still asks about his father and when he will return home.
Babalo says he wants to become a police officer one day so he can arrest the officers who shot his father.
“I explain it to him every time that his father is gone. He still gets angry, but in time it will get better for both of them.”
Shortly before the massacre, Nandipha said her husband’s only wish had been to watch his children grow up and make something of themselves.
“He won’t have that chance, but I’ll make sure that his children will forever remember him and the kind of man he was.”
MEMORIES Mihle Yona was born just days before his father was gunned down in Marikana. Last week he celebrated his third birthday