Marikana strike took us by surprise – Lonmin security manager

2014-09-01 16:42

Lonmin mine security had not expected protesting miners at Marikana in the North West to gather and strike on August 12 2012.

“Never had it happened that strikers would gather on a Sunday and have a go at the property. Previously, the strikers would rest and resume their action on a Monday,” Lonmin mining security manager Henry Mntunaye Blou told the Farlam Commission of Inquiry today.

“Up to that point my thinking was that the strikers, as they were gathering, would just have a dance to show force and would disperse.”

Blou was cross-examined by Karel Tip, for the National Union of Mineworkers, at the inquiry’s public hearings in Pretoria.

“We already know that by August 10 [2012] you and Mr Sinclair registered that this was an unusually large number of strikers and that their mood was unusually threatening,” said Tip.

“Didn’t you have to displace your views about what happened in the past? Should you have anticipated the worst? Isn’t that your duty and what scenario planning is about?”

Blou responded: “We were caught by surprise. We were caught unawares. We never anticipated that Lonmin employees would be armed on a Sunday.”

Commission chairperson, retired judge Ian Farlam, said Blou was not answering the question.

Tip said if Blou realised that the protesters’ behaviour was uncharacteristic, special measures for the “uncharted territory” should have been implemented.

Blou responded: “We should have done that. On Friday when the strikers were dispersing we were walking among them. On Saturday, after the attack at Wonderkop, our teams were also walking in and among the strikers.

“On Sunday morning we were still of the view that we had a good rapport and that the strikers would again listen to us as has been history. I believe we should have taken a different view. We did not.”

Lonmin guards, Frans Mabelani and Hassan Fundi, were killed during a confrontation with the strikers on August 12, a Sunday.

In that week, eight other people – two policemen and mineworkers – were killed in unrest related to the strike.

The commission is investigating the deaths of 44 people killed during the strike-related unrest in August 2012.

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