Marikana: ‘No NUM blood was spilled on koppie’

2014-09-08 16:07

Two hours into the Farlam Commission of Inquiry’s in loco inspection today, intolerance spread through the mine workers present near the koppie in Marikana, North West.

The inspection was called off by retired judge Ian Farlam, who chairs the inquiry.

The group, led by Farlam, was moving through areas related to the August 2012 shooting of Marikana miners during a strike when they came across the mine workers.

The workers demanded that a woman wearing a National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) T-shirt take it off. The woman was hounded by a handful of workers, some of whom were wearing Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) and “Never Forget Marikana” T-shirts.

One mine worker demanded that the woman take off her T-shirt because no NUM members died on August 16 2012 and she had no business wearing the shirt.

“Akho gazi labantu beNUM apha [There was no NUM blood spilled here]” he said.

The police intervened, saying that everyone had the same rights and there was no basis for the mineworkers to threaten the NUM member. A pulling and pushing altercation ensued between the mine workers and the police over the woman wearing the shirt.

The inspection was momentarily stopped as Farlam addressed the group, saying that it was a public space and no one would be turned away due to the dissatisfaction of one party. He urged the miners to stop the altercation so the inspection could continue.

The mine workers were addressed by one of the lawyers of the wounded and arrested miners. Attorney Puleng Keetse demanded that the group calm down and let the woman stay. She said that she had sacrificed her own plans to be with the wounded and arrested miners at the inspection and they needed to behave.

As the miners calmed down, the inspection continued.

This is the second inspection of the koppie and surrounding areas.

City Press understands that another inspection was necessitated by parties within the commission to assist those who had not been at the first in loco inspection, which was conducted in 2012 when the commission began its work.

Today, the commission was supposed to visit the route taken by Major-General Ganasen Naidoo as he tried to make his way towards the first koppie before the miners were shot and killed.

Evidence leader Advocate Matthew Chaskalson led the commission through the routes Naidoo could have taken on his way to the first scene.

But after the police fired the water cannon, demonstrating how the police would have tried to disperse the mine workers on August 16 2012, the inspection was called to a screeching halt.

“The NUM witnesses have indicated that they were not prepared to stay as they were intimidated, they are afraid for their safety. The police witnesses who were also here to point out the spots have also left, fearing for their safety,” said Farlam.

He added that if it was a court and people felt they could not speak because they were afraid for their safety he would have closed the session and held hearings in camera. But because everything had to happen in public he would have to close the inspection until a later date.

The mine workers, families of the deceased and some representatives were vocal about Farlam’s decision.

Ntombizolile Mosebetsane, one of the widows, said: “The commission is about to end and we have never walked the earth our husbands died on and now this happens. How are we supposed to ever come to terms with their deaths when we can’t see where they died?”

But Farlam said the commission would at a later stage decide when an appropriate time would be for the parties to return for the inspection.

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