Marikana: Jesus, piglets and camels

2013-02-07 15:56

Proceedings at the Marikana Commission of Inquiry deteriorated into such a farce today that a senior evidence leader was forced to intervene.

Advocate Dali Mpofu’s cross-examination of National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) president Senzeni Zokwana drew outbursts of laughter from the half-empty public gallery.

But lawyers representing the various parties and senior evidence leader Advocate Mbuyiseli Madlanga were not so amused.

Mpofu and Zokwana spent time arguing over whether pigs have piglets or children. This was after Mpofu had quoted from a speech Zokwana had made years ago in which he used the phrase “pigs eat their own children”. Zokwana corrected Mpofu by saying pigs don’t have children but piglets.

The two also engaged in a bit of rough sparring, when Mpofu charged that Zokwana was lying (“uyaxoka” in isiXhosa).

“I will forgive you for calling me a liar at my age,” Zokwana responded.

A large amount of time was then spent on what resembled an isiXhosa lesson, with interpreters defining the meaning of the term “uyaxoka”. Zokwana disputed the interpretation, which was then corrected.

Retired Judge Ian Farlam also joined the fray, correcting Zokwana, who incorrectly said elephant instead of camel when quoting a passage from the Bible.

Zokwana was quoting the passage: “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the Kingdom of God.”

These exchanges, which took the better of the morning, prompted senior evidence leader Madlanga to intervene.

Madlanga asked whether Mpofu’s questions during his cross-examination were relevant and if they were in any way assisting the commission.

Mpofu was caught in the middle of a heated exchange with Farlam and Lonmin lawyer Schalk Burger yesterday as a result of his long-winded questions.

Judge Farlam reprimanded him, saying he should refrain from making a speech before asking a question.

This afternoon, after Madlanga’s intervention, NUM lawyer Karel Tip and Burger also interjected. Burger said listening to Mpofu’s cross-examination for the past day and a half left him with the impression that he represents the Association of Mining and Construction Union (Amcu).

Mpofu represents the more than 200 mine workers who were injured and arrested after police opened fire and killed 34 people during a strike by Lonmin rock-drill operators in Marikana on August 16 last year.

Mpofu’s cross-examination has been marred by objections from lawyers and reprimands from Judge Farlam.

The hearing continues.

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