It was on 7 February last year when Pinky Mosiane was found dead underground at one of Anglo American Platinum mine’s Rustenburg shaft. This, so the report goes, after she was apparently raped and that a used condom was found next to her body.
South African Press Association reported at the time that Pinky, who was a mineworker, was found in a pool of blood underground by one of her colleagues and immediately reported the incident to the mine management, according North West provincial police communications head, Brigadier Thulani Ngubane. Ngubane told the news agency at the time that a stone with blood stains on it and a lunch box were found next to the body.
Pinky, according to the Times report on 14 February last year, came from Tshing, a township on the outskirts of Ventersdorp, in North West. Her horrific incident left her family with broken dreams and many unanswered questions. Pinky’s mother, Mary, told the newspaper at the time that her daughter’s 7-year-old son, Didintle, was now without parent. This after his father died a year ago. She said it “pains me that [Didintle] is worried that he doesn’t have a father or a mother”. “Last night,” the grandmother told the newspaper on 14 February 2012, “he asked me if he doesn’t have both parents”. “I said ‘Yes, but God will help us'”, she said in respond to her grandson.
Pinky’s death was an attempted rape, said Mary. She told the Time the family believed someone was trying to rape her daughter because her colleagues found her with her trousers pulled down to her knees. “I’m sure they were trying to rape her. They probably hit her with a blunt object on the back of her head. I’m told that she was bleeding through her nose and ears. When they found her, she was still alive. They alerted the mine’s safety officials but when they got there she had already died,” said Mary. The grieving mother – who was grieving at the time of the interview with the Times newspaper – said it would have been easier for the family to accept had her daughter died in the streets. This, she said, is because “to die at work is something else; it’s difficult to accept.”
She admitted to being first worried when her daughter got a job in the mine to work underground but Pinky “assured me that everything was fine”. A day before she died, Mary told the Times, Pinky spoke to her about conducting a traditional ceremony to thank the ancestors for her job. “We were planning to do that at the end of this month but now her life has been extinguished,” she said. The grandmother of now an 8-year-old grandson said her daughter also promised to build her a proper family house with electricity, running water and indoor toilets. Recalls Mary”: “She started working there in November  and I was happy because I am a single mother. She helped me a lot and she was like the father of this family.”
Mary, who at the time lived in a two-roomed house that had been extended with corrugated iron sheeting, told the Times Pinky surprised her during the Christmas holidays when she promised her a house. “Her plan was to build a house. She wanted to build me a house by the end of this year. She had already started saving R3000 a month through a stop order. I was looking forward to that house, but God had other plans.” She is was, however, hopeful that she will get her house one day because Anglo American had promised to employ Pinky’s 25-year-old brother, Teboho.
Mary – who was still recovering from the death of her sister, Thoko, who died in October 2011 – was so devastated by Pinky’s death that she was admitted to the PaulKrugerHospital, in Rustenburg, according to the Times on 14 Feb last year. It quoted her saying: “This pain [Pinky’s death] adds to that pain [Thoko’s death]. My sister worked in town and she also helped me here in the house. Now I have to be the father and mother of this house. It’s hard.”
Chamber of Mines spokesman Jabu Maphalala told the Times at the time that “Safety in the mines is an issue, but the chamber [deals] with safety issues such as rock falls, dust and noise and [does] not deal with gender-specific safety issues.” Maphalala said the chamber had no figures on the number of women miners in South Africa nor had it heard of Pinky’s murder at the time. “We don’t know of any rape issues in the mines. I can’t say it is not an issue, though. But I haven’t heard of it before,” he said.
The Times quoted another media report saying Anglo Platinum had about 3815 worker, 262 of them being women. No arrests had been made at the time (to date) and we are yet to hear of DNA results from samples taken from Pinky’s body which Ngubane said would determine whether she was rape (or not). A murder docket was immediately opened. In two weeks’ time it will be a year since Pinky’s death – which took place on 6 February last year – and without any progress report or the outcome of any investigation from the police, Anglo Platinum or any other media follow on this gruesome incident. What are we therefore to make of this?
Following the incident NUM general secretary Frans Baleni released a statement saying the union was “disgusted” at what happened to Pinky. “We condemn the barbaric and neanderthal act that happened,” he said. Baleni called on all law enforcement agencies “to ensure that no stone is left unturned and that perpetrators are brought to book,” adding the union was particularly disappointed that after many years of campaigning for equal rights and for women to be allowed to do any work, beasts would like to unceremoniously turn back the clock. He said it was “disappointing that women workers have to in pursuit of livelihoods, while being subjected to the evils of capitalism, face yet another challenge, that of being invaded and killed by co-workers who are supposed to be their protectors and comrades in arms.”
The general secretary said although the “culprits” we unknown at the time, it was only “beast men that [could] carry out the barbaric act as machinery do not have the capability to do that”. Baleni appealed to female workers, especially those working underground and where the majority were men, to remain calm while investigations were underway. He also asked Department of Mineral Resources to “reject any innuendo that seeks to bar women from working underground”.
In seeking justice for Pinky, I tweeted City Press editor Ferial Haffajee on several occasions on what follow up, if any, her newspaper had made on this but she seems to have ignored by requests. My appeal to other journos, too, to make a follow up on this case and another – which involved woman who’s tavern and house were destroyed on 16 June last year by community members, and her partner stoned to death the following day after she allegedly refused to sell alcohol an a group of underage kids – seem to have fallen on dead ears.
This week I sent a tweet Cosatu and its General secretary Zwelinzima Vavi and copying others with the hope of a positive response. In my tweet sent out of frustration, I said:
@Zwelinzima1 & @_cosatu Why is it that ya’ll have now forgotten that @AngloAmerican owes us an explanation of what led to a woman raped & died at one of its Rustenburg shafts? This incident happened early last year around Easter & to date no outcome of that investigation has been made public as far as I know & no-one’s been held accountable for her murder? And what of the @SAPoliceService investigation? Worse, I don’t remember political parties demanding answers on this. Why? I demands answers. It is NOT the first time I asked this issue be looked into. At the time, I also asked feedback or follow up on a case of a woman whose tarven was trashed and destroyed by community members and whose apparent partner who killed the following day after she refused to sell alcohol to either an under age teen or a group of underage teenages (sic) cc @jenniferthorpe @RapeCrisis @Anatinus @ancylhq @MyANC_ @sikimgabadeli.
Despite this and other several efforts made to give the matter the attention and urgency it deserves, I have to date not received any response to my tweets let alone response to my Facebook status. Never. This unsuccessful battle, which seeks justice for the seemingly helpless is, in my view, an unwinnable battle because to date I have not received any response and I feel like I am the only one – except maybe the mineworker’s family, especially her mother and son – who cares about what happened to Anglo’s internal investigation into the manner and of course the police’s DA analysis report and whether there has been any process on arrest of any suspects. This because the Times reported at the time that there were 13 men underground with Pinky who are all suspects.
The other reason I tweeted Cosatu was because following the incident its National Gender Co-ordinator, Gertrude Mtsweni released a statement “unreservedly” condemning this inhumane act and that the federation union was “revolted and outraged” at the incident. Mtsweni called this an “atrocity” that is primitive and which was only taking us back to the stone age. She said Cosatu and its affiliates had fought long and hard for men and women to be treated equally in the workplace not only by their bosses but by every fellow worker as well. “This heinous act needs an urgent response from our law enforcement agencies to apprehend the perpetrator(s) and from the employers to prevent similar events ever happening in the future,” said Mtsweni.
Both Cosatu and NUM said not only were women in the mining industry or any other industry (emphasis) subjected to “evils of capitalism” but that they also faced challenges “[of their privacy] being invaded and killed by co-workers who are supposed to be their protectors and comrades in arms.” Mineral Resources Minister Susan Shabangu also promised to visit Pinky’s family at the time. Expressing a grave concern at the incident, the minister called on mining companies to institute stringent measures to ensure the safety of women in mining and the wilful implementation of gender equality principles.
On 8 March on International Women’s Day, the International Federation of Chemical, Energy, Mine and General Workers’ Unions (ICEM) called the immediate apprehension of the Pinky’s killer(s). ICEM General Secretary Manfred Warda said workplace violence against women in any form “is a glaring violation of decent work and a severe signal of gender inequality”.
ICEM statistics showed that seven of ten women suffer some kind of gender-related violence at some point in their lives. And that 50% of women in the European Union suffer on-the-job harassment or bullying. The organisation vouched in a statement at the time not to rest until the perpetrator(s) of this bestial act were apprehended and shown justice.
So, South African, will we ever know what happened to Pinky Mosiane, and whether those responsible for her murder will see the might of the law and thereby seeing justice being done? And why has Anglo Platinum been so quiet about the issue?
Ed. Note: I have sent ICEM’s Carol Bruce an email requesting any update the organisation has received to date or previously on Pinky’s case. I will update this article as soon as I receive anything.