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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

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