Cop tells of naked Marikana miners

By Drum Digital
22 November 2013

A large group of naked miners performed rituals behind a koppie (hill) the day before the Marikana shooting.

A large group of naked miners performed rituals behind a koppie (hill) the day before the Marikana shooting, the Farlam Commission of Inquiry heard on Friday.

Police Brigadier Adriaan Calitz testified that a white Toyota bakkie off-loaded buckets at a koppie near the Nkaneng informal settlement in Marikana, near Rustenburg in North West on August 15 last year.

"A group of strikers went to the bakkie and surrounded it. I reported to the JOC (joint operations committee) that it was suggested to us by some members that the buckets contained muti," he said.

After 4pm, a police helicopter patrolling the scene reported that about 800 naked strikers were behind the koppie "and a traditional healer was busy with them".

The following day, 34 people, mostly striking miners, were shot dead in a clash with police. Seventy eight were wounded when trying to disperse and disarm them near the Lonmin platinum mine in Marikana.

The Farlam commission was appointed later that month to investigate the circumstances around the shooting, as well as the deaths of 10 other people, including two policemen and two security guards, during the preceding week.

Calitz, one of the police commanders assigned to the Marikana operation during the labour unrest, was testifying in the commission's public hearings in Centurion on Friday.

He said the white Toyota bakkie was seen bringing substances in buckets.

"The chopper reported that the 800 or so naked strikers were performing rituals."

Calitz said one of the protest leaders, identified as Noki, had repeatedly told the police that they should leave the koppie.

"Mr Noki came forward and said that they were not going to speak to the SAPS (SA Police Service) anymore and that they wanted to speak to mine management through their attorney, Shapiro. He then walked back to the group," said Calitz.

"A short while later, a group of approximately 300 men changed their mood, showed greater aggression by banging their weapons together, and started singing and moving up and down in a tight unit."

In March, the commission heard that the sangoma believed to have performed rituals on the protesting mineworkers had been shot dead.

Ishmael Semenya, for the police, announced the sangoma's death at the public hearings.

At the time, he said police had been trying to bring the 69-year-old sangoma Alton "Ndzabe" Zikhuthele Joja to testify as a witness before the commission.

In June, the National Prosecuting Authority said Lindelani Mkhize, 28, accused of killing the sangoma, appeared in the Bizana Magistrate's Court.

Mkhize was arrested in his hometown of KwaMaphumulo, KwaZulu-Natal.

Joja was to have testified before the Farlam Commission about his role, and that of his sons, in rituals performed on striking miners.

The rituals were apparently supposed to make the miners believe they were invisible in the face of gunfire.

Five armed men shot Joja when he walked up to their vehicle, parked at his home, to ask them what they were looking for.

The gunmen fled. Their car was later found abandoned and burnt out with a rifle inside.

Joja died on arrival at a local hospital.

The public hearings resume on Monday.

-by Sapa

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