Nonkululeko Ngxande

If I have a problem, I am alone with it

Nonkululeko Ngxande

Nonkululeko Ngxande grieves, with the wind as her only companion. A framed head-handshoulders photograph of her husband, Mpumzeni, is the sole decoration in the sparse front room of her almost empty three-room house in Ngqeleni in the Eastern Cape.

As a grieving Xhosa makothi , the 39-year-old widow doesn’t leave her home and, wearing her black izile or mourning dress, she sits on the floor to receive visitors.Ngxande has been in mourning for a year, since her husband’s death. She has not ventured past her front gate.She remembers August 16 2012 in Marikana: “[My husband] woke up as usual that day and went to the koppie. He came home at 2pm for lunch as he always did. Then he left, and never came home again,” she says.Distraught after hearing about the shooting at the koppie, she went to the Andrew Saffy Hospital at the mine, but could not find him. “On Saturday,” says Ngxande, “his uncles came to Marikana and told me to stop looking for him because he was dead. I fainted.”Almost a year on, there are few signs that Ngxande has reconciled with her grief. At a cleansing ceremony held by the government at the Marikana koppies in July she was inconsolable, viewing the site of her husband’s death, and collapsed with grief again.“He was a parent to me. If I had a problem I would tell him about it. Now I am alone. If I have a problem, I am alone with it,” says Ngxande.She married Mpumzeni in Cape Town in 2000. He had been working as a farm labourer in Grabouw, earning R150 a week. When he got a job at Lonmin’s Karee mine in 2007 it seemed a boon for the couple, who had two schoolgoing children.Now, life stands still. Renovations to their home have stopped and deep fissures in the walls let in water when it rains. A proposed new rondavel remains half completed. The unveiling of a tombstone for Mpumzeni’s father has been put on hold.In the shadow of the Marikana massacre and after the footage of police dragging Mozambican national Mido Macia to his death tied to the back of a van went viral, there is only one question on the increasingly angry lips of Ngxande’s male relatives and neighbours: “Why are our government’s police killing us like this?”





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