Attempt to hide Marikana footage, inquiry told

2014-07-29 19:44
(Picture: Sapa)

(Picture: Sapa)

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Pretoria - There was an attempt to hide an incident where Lonmin security guards shot rubber bullets at striking Marikana miners, from the Farlam Commission of Inquiry, an evidence leader said on Tuesday.

"My first concern is that there appears to be a deliberate attempt to hide the fact from this commission that the Lonmin security fired rubber bullets at the NUM [National Union of Mineworkers] offices on 11 August 2012," Matthew Chaskalson said at the inquiry's hearings in Pretoria.

He was cross-examining Lonmin security risk manager Dirk Botes about discrepancies in the events recorded in occurrence logbooks.

Botes said security guards who testified at the inquiry should have been asked about the firing of rubber bullets.

Commission chairperson retired Judge Ian Farlam said there were discrepancies in the versions presented by mining company Lonmin which needed explaining.

"What was concealed from the commission is that there was a full version of the Lonmin OB [occurrence book] which was not put before us.

"We were given an abbreviated one, with that entry [of the 11 August 2012 shooting] and other entries deleted from it. Those are matters, presumably, that will be explained in due course," said Farlam.

Chaskalson said it was strange that Lonmin did not have video footage of the violence at NUM's offices.

Shots were fired during the altercation between protesting miners and NUM officials at the NUM's office at the mine. Several protesters were wounded.

"My other concern is that we have no footage of this event. This is very difficult to understand. We know that that scene where the clash took place is directly in the view of camera 218," said Chaskalson.

"We have footage of that very same position on the following day as an exhibit. We know that the camera is movement operated. It's hard to imagine that a crowd of protesters turned to the NUM offices would not have been picked by the camera."

Botes said he did not know why Frans Mabelani, a Lonmin security guard killed along with his colleague Hassan Fundi while trying to stop the protesters, did not tell Lonmin control room operators to focus surveillance cameras at the protesters.

"He [Mabelani] should have shared that information to his operators that reported to him. He would have tasked them to make use of all cameras to monitor the situation. That didn't happen because there is no footage," said Botes.

"If there is no footage, then obviously the operator did not use the camera to view that specific area."


Farlam said he expected a reasonably alert operator to have turned on cameras to focus on the marching protesters.

"If there was a crowd of approximately 2 000 protesters and if they got to 50m of the NUM offices and there was a reasonably alert operator I would have expected him to pick that up.

"I want to hear why there is no footage about that [incident], if there is a satisfactory explanation," said Farlam.

Botes said he could not explain. Farlam said it was odd. Botes agreed. He said he was not aware if Lonmin took any disciplinary measures regarding the camera operators.

The commission is investigating the deaths of 44 people during strike-related violence at Lonmin's platinum mining operations at Marikana, near Rustenburg, North West, in August 2012.

Thirty-four people, mostly striking mineworkers, were shot dead in a clash with police, over 70 were wounded, and another 250 arrested on 16 August 2012. Police were apparently trying to disarm and disperse them.

In the preceding week, 10 people, including two policemen and the two security guards, were killed.


Read more on:    lonmin  |  pretoria  |  marikana inquiry

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