Pauline Masuhlo's family will have to wait to discover whether the circumstances surrounding her death will be uncovered by the Farlam commission.
Pauline Masuhlo was the ANC proportional representation councillor who died after being shot during a crackdown at Marikana on September 15.
There now appears to be confusion surrounding a letter sent to President Jacob Zuma's office by the offices of attorneys Maluleke, Msimang and Associates, requesting the terms of reference of the commission to be extended to include Masuhlo's death in hospital on September 19.
The current terms of reference for the commission, set up by Zuma and chaired by retired Judge Ian Farlam, only empowers it to examine the events and circumstances surrounding the deaths that occurred from August 11 to 16.
Presidential spokesperson Mac Maharaj told the Mail & Guardian there was no record of the letter in the office's registry and he was "not aware" of its existence.
Advocate Dali Mpofu, acting for the Masuhlo family and the 270 miners arrested after the police massacre that left 34 dead at Lonmin's Marikana mine, notified the commission on Wednesday that the legal firm – which is briefing him – had sent through the letter on September 21 and its receipt had been "acknowledged". The M&G has a copy of the letter from Masuhlo's attorneys that was received and signed for at the presidency by a "Monaiwa" on September 21. However officials at the presidential registry, which records all correspondence sent to Zuma's office, were unable to find the letter when the M&G enquired on Thursday afternoon.
Masuhlo died in Rustenburg's Paul Kruger Hospital on September 19 after being shot in the leg and abdomen by rubber bullets.
Signs of recovery
According to her sister, Edith Masuhlo, Pauline Masuhlo's abdomen wound was not serious and her death had come as a surprise to the family. "I spoke to her on Wednesday [September 19] at 10 in the morning and she was fine. Then I got a call from my older sister later saying that she had died."
Edith Masuhlo said the family was waiting for the official postmortem to reveal how her sister had died.
The M&G had spoken to the councillor while she was hospitalised and she had expressed optimism that she was recovering. Mpofu told the commission that Masuhlo's was a "mysterious death in hospital after she indicated signs of recovery" and that her "life is worth the same as the other victims".
Masuhlo was described by community members as a "hard-working and caring" person who wanted to make Marikana a better place.
She was particularly concerned about the lack of infrastructure development in the informal settlements of Wonderkop and Nkaneng near the Lonmin mine and the levels of gender-based violence in the area.
The commission was adjourned until October 22 after a stuttering start that saw concerns raised about the lack of provision being made for the families of dead miners – the majority of whom live in the Eastern Cape and Lesotho – to be transported to and accommodated in Rustenburg for the hearings.
After two days of on-site inspections, the commission heard that the police were not ready to make their scheduled presentations on Wednesday.
The legal counsel for the various affected parties is expected to use the adjournment period to exchange documents, witness lists and testimonies.