Funeral held for baby Alunamda, but her death has not been put to rest

“She died during a struggle of our people” says community leader

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Photo of a man carrying a small coffin
The coffin of four-month-old Alunamda is taken by Macebo Tshitshiko from the family home to the graveyard. Her mother, Akhona (in white) follows behind. Photo: Velani Ludidi

Four-month-old Alunamda Mncedane was laid to rest in Delft cemetery on Thursday.

The death certificate says she died of natural causes. But many in the community do not accept this.

Alunamda died during a service delivery protest in Marikana, Philippi, ten days ago. Teargas fired by police in pursuit of protesters entered her mother’s shack.

The community came out in numbers for the funeral. Marikana, usually a noisy place with people chattering and music blasting from loudspeakers, was solemn and quiet.

The funeral service was held at the family home a cold, two-roomed shack with holes in the structure and no electricity.

The community chipped in and a burial company covered the costs of the funeral as the family could not afford to bury their infant.

The bereft mother, Akhona, who is 16, was silent and tearful throughout the service. When the coffin was lowered, she broke down. Her parents had to hold her as she threw a spade of soil into the grave.

Nomzamo Mncedane, Akhona’s sister, told the mourners: “There was a strong smell of teargas. Our mother was called, and she tried to see if the baby was still breathing, with no luck.”

Community leader Melikhaya Laphi blamed the Western Cape Province.

“We will continue fighting for services to come in Marikana. Alunamda should be treated as an icon because she died during a struggle of our people. We are waiting for a reply [on demands for services] from the City since our last meeting. If it is unsatisfactory, we are going back to the streets,” he said.

Spokesperson for the family Phathilizwe Mncedane said they wanted an autopsy. “The detective said there were no signs of injuries on the body and that it might be that she died from cold. We never met the doctor at the mortuary and whenever we asked for the cause of death we were told to speak to the detective handling the case.”

Previously police spokesperson Captain Frederick van Wyk had told GroundUp: “A post-mortem will be conducted to determine the cause of death.”

Police directed GroundUp to the Department of Health. GroundUp is still awaiting a response.

TOPICS:  Housing Policing

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