Bishop grilled over Marikana evidence

2012-11-22 15:48
Johannes Seoka. (Picture: Felix Dlangamandla, Beeld)

Johannes Seoka. (Picture: Felix Dlangamandla, Beeld)

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Rustenburg - Anglican bishop of Pretoria, Reverend Johannes Seoka was taken to task on Thursday over his evidence about the shootings at Lonmin’s Marikana mine.

Lonmin’s lawyer, advocate Schalk Burger SC, grilled Seoka over his claims that Lonmin management declined to talk to the protesters and labelled them "criminals and murderers".

Burger also questioned the clergyman’s role as a negotiator in the wage impasse, which culminated in the shooting dead of 34 miners during a confrontation with police on 16 August.

Burger stated that Seoka's evidence had dwelt on the deaths of the 34, but that he had given very little attention to the 10 people killed in the days before 16 August.

"Why did you not write about the killing of the 10 in your moral dissertation? At the end of this inquiry, we will argue that your role as a negotiator was undermined,” Burger said, referring to Seoka's statement to the commission.

All the deaths

"You wrote about the planting of the weapons on the dead miners [on 16 August]. You don’t know anything about that. You relied on [what] you had read somewhere."

Burger argued that the commission’s mandate was to probe the deaths of 44 people, not merely the 34.
Seoka said he had limited himself to the events of 16 August because that was the day he was involved at Marikana as a peacemaker.

He said he only referred to the deaths of the 10 slightly as he analysed broader moral issues in South Africa.
Burger questioned Seoka on his independence, his understanding of the matters at stake during the strike and the ability to listen to both parties involved.

'Dismissive' representatives

In the week before 16 August, 10 people, including two police officers and two security guards, were hacked to death at the Lonmin platinum mine in Marikana.

The bishop was part of a group of religious leaders who mediated talks between the strikers and mine management.

Seoka told the commission on Thursday that when he extended the protesters' request for mine executives to come to the koppie where the workers had gathered, and negotiate, the language used by the Lonmin representatives was dismissive.

“When I spoke to the protesters, they did not show any signs of anger. The Lonmin representatives I engaged were angry, used strong language and were in denial,” Seoka said.

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Read more on:    lonmin  |  mahikeng  |  farlam inquiry  |  mining unrest  |  police
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