Marikana relatives breakdown

By Drum Digital
24 October 2012

Relatives of the 34 miners killed at Lonmin's mine in Marikana sobbed when footage of the shooting was shown to the Farlam commission in Rustenburg on Tuesday.

At first two clips, supplied by eNews, showing what happened about an hour before the shooting on August 16 were viewed, to provide context to the day's events.

When the third video showing the moment police opened fire on protesters was screened, the auditorium at the Rustenburg Civic Centre fell silent.

Proceedings came to a halt as a number of women wailed and fell to the floor. A woman screamed. Another two tried to console her. Many had to be carried out of the hall.

Commission chair, retired judge Ian Farlam, apologised to the families, saying he did not realise that particular footage was of the shooting.

Police opened fire on a group of striking miners encamped on a hill in Nkaneng, killing 34 and wounding 78. The workers, who wanted monthly salaries of R12,500, had been carrying knobkerries, pangas, sticks, and iron rods.

The strike started on August 10. Within four days, 10 people had been killed, two of them policemen and two of them security guards.

Advocate Dumisa Ntsebeza, for the families, recommended that the relatives be shown the footage in a separate room, where they would also be given counselling.

Farlam assured the families that on Monday, when post mortem exams would be discussed, each of them would be taken through the reports in a separate room.

Evidence leader Geoff Budlender, who was presenting the videos, said there was no police video footage of the shooting at the hill and small hill, known as scenes one and two.

Videos supplied by Al Jazeera, Reuters, BBC, and the SABC were also shown. Budlender said the Al Jazeera footage was "in many ways the most revealing clip".

The first witness, a police crime scene technician tasked with recording the day's events, testified on Tuesday. Lt-Col Cornelius Johannes Botha said he was ordered to get into a helicopter and film a police operation, without knowing what the operation was.

Botha was questioned over his statement that he had not captured any of the shooting. From Botha's testimony Farlam concluded that a major part of the operation was already over by the time he started filming.

"So the purpose for getting you there failed?" asked Farlam.

Botha agreed.

Earlier, the advocates concluded their opening remarks.

Dali Mpofu, for the injured and arrested miners, said his legal team might have to withdraw from proceedings because of a lack of money.

He said Legal Aid SA had refused to help his clients.

Evidence leader Mbuyiseli Madlanga told Mpofu he would speak to Legal Aid and try and make an arrangement.

The Bapo Ba Mogale royal family and its traditional community also joined proceedings on Tuesday. Lonmin's mine is situated on the royal family's land.

The commission was postponed to Monday.

-by Sapa

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