Details emerged this month of the horrific death of a man at the municipal landfill in Makhanda (Grahamstown) just after Christmas. Thandisizwe Maki, in his mid-30s, died near the entrance of the landfill when a municipal truck allegedly drove over his head, crushing his skull.
Guards and fellow pickers who were at the scene are haunted by the gruesome sight.
Fellow picker Themba Nkuma*, 19, described the incident in isiXhosa, which was translated to Grocott’s Mail. He said Maki had been “riding” the truck up next to the driver and talking to him. “The driver stopped for him to get off.”
In dismounting, Maki must have slipped under the truck, Nkuma said via the translator. “The wheels went over his head. It was terrible – there was blood and brains everywhere.”
Police spokesperson Captain Mali Govender said a case of culpable homicide had been opened and that Maki’s family had spoken to the police.
“The man was a regular waste picker, in his mid-30s,” said Govender, who confirmed the incident had taken place on 29 December 2018. There was little detail available, other than that the driver of the truck had spoken to Maki prior to the incident, which was being investigated.
Grocott’s Mail had not yet received a response to queries from Makana Municipality at the time of publishing.
* Themba Nkuna is not his real name.
WHY THEMBA NKUMA* WAS THERE
Themba Nkuma*, 19, dropped out of school last year and left the Extension 9 home where he and his brother live with their grandmother. He said his parents died over a decade ago, and the family struggled to survive on a single old-age grant. “I didn’t have money to buy my school uniform,” he said. “Everything was just too difficult. So I came here to try to get some money to help our mother [their grandmother].”