“The Marikana massacre destroyed my whole family”: Speech by Ndikho Jokanisi Bomela

My name is Ndikho Jokanisi Bomela. I was nine-years-old when I became an orphan after my father, Semi Jokanisi, was killed on August 13 2012 in Marikana.

I am a man now. I have been to entabeni, the mountain, to perform the Xhosa cultural initiation rites to become a man. But I am also a man because I have had to grow up fast after my father was killed.

My father died for a wage of R12500, which BASF’s suppliers of platinum, Lonmin, refused to engage with the striking mineworkers about — colluding instead to have the strike resolved by the South African police. Their position would contribute to forty-four men dying that week.

But he also died for the idea that the conditions of the workers, their families and their communities could be made much, much better. That they didn’t have to live among pigs and sewage, in shacks without electricity or running water, expect for when they leaked from the rain.

I was a boy when my father died. I am now a man. The massacre at Marikana has affected my entire family.

My grandfather, Goodman Jokanisi, worked with my father at Marikana. They lived in the same quarters but only really saw each other in between shifts outside the shaft. They had to work hard to provide the platinum for BASF. We only saw them twice a year when they came home over Easter and Christmas.

After my father’s death my grandfather went back to work, and his son’s ghost at Marikana. After he retired, he went back to his rural home in the Eastern Cape where he tends his cattle. During school holidays I sometimes sleep in his bedroom. I still feel him lay awake at night, haunted by his losses.

These included the death of my grandmother Nomandiya Joyce Jokanisi in 2021. She died not knowing who had killed her son or why he had to die. Twelve years later, no one has been held responsible for my father’s death.

From my father’s death until her own, my grandmother took depression medication. I was a boy when my grandmother died. I am now a young man.

In the time that has passed I have also lost my brother, Ayabonga. He was bullied at school because of his association with Marikana. When he told the mining company about this and that he wanted a transfer to another school, they refused. He was 15-years-old when he committed suicide. The Marikana massacre is a trans-generational scar that we, the children, still bear.

I was a boy when my brother died. I am now a young man.

I know the widows and mineworkers who have come here before me to tell you about their situation. I have heard the responses from your CEOs, like Mr Bock in 2016, who told the families that BASF would aim “to work together to continue to improve the situation” at Marikana. This pledge was made as part of BASF’s commitment to clean supply chains and recognition of people’s human rights.

Mr Bock’s statement suggests that BASF was working to improve the conditions at Marikana when the massacre happened and continued to do so until today.

I was a boy when he made that statement. I am now a young man. I am here to tell you that I see no evidence of that change at Marikana, or in the lives of my family, or families like mine.

My uncle Anele has replaced my father on the mines at Marikana. He was also supposed to be one of the people who would fill the hole left by my father’s death. But my uncle works all the time. He too only comes home twice a year to see his family. When I visited him at Marikana during the last school holidays he spoke about the hard, dangerous work that he did underground. He told me how he felt his life was in danger because of the working conditions and described, one day, how a mineworker lost his fingers in an accident.

These are the same conditions that my father and grandfather worked under over a decade ago — and even longer. Three generations of my family have experienced these same comditions. So, I must ask you, what is it that you continue to do to “improve the situation”? What do you plan to do in terms of reparations for our loss? What do you plan to do to ensure that the conditions at Marikana improves so that something like this massacre will not happen again?

I am not a boy. I am a young man. One who had to grow up very quickly. I am not here to beg you for charity. This is not about charity. This year I started studying law. From what I have learnt so far, I do not see justice in my past, in the present or in my future.

It is clear to me from your answers to questions in previous years that our humanity does not matter to you at BASF. You have buried us alive, underground at Marikana with your corporate responses to our situation, and our questions in previous years.

You have responded to our demands for justice and reparations only with regard for your public image — not for our humanity.

This is about justice and ensuring that you all never forget about Marikana and the scars it has left on me, my family, my community and my country.

The time for corporate answers is over. Tell us how you intend to repair and attend to the lives of the people most intimately affected by the massacre at Marikana — the surviving mineworkers and families of the dead men. Give us time-frames. If you are serious about the future generations, meet with Marikana’s Next Generation and hear us — because this is just the introduction of all the challenges we facing (knock effect of all the other challenges).