Farlam consoles dead officer's sister

2013-03-20 18:03
(Picture: Sapa)

(Picture: Sapa)

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Marikana - Farlam Commission of Inquiry chairperson Ian Farlam on Wednesday consoled the crying sister of one of the police officers killed in August last year.

"Your brother would have been very proud of you," Farlam told Elizabeth Maubane as he gave her a hug during an in loco inspection at Lonmin's platinum mine in Marikana.

Maubane's brother, Warrant Officer Tsietsi Hendrik Monene from the public order police in Mpumalanga, was one of two police officers killed, allegedly by striking mineworkers, on 13 August.

Three miners were also killed that day.

The commission was inspecting the area near the mine's K3 shaft and retraced the steps of miners and police officers on 13 August.

As Maubane approached the place where Monene's body was found, marked with a stick and orange cone, she started to weep.

About three metres from the stick, she knelt and cried uncontrollably and said: "Why? Why?"

Two people escorted her away as crime scene expert Lieutenant Colonel Neels Botha explained how he reconstructed the scene to indicate where the five bodies, cartridges, weapons, stun grenades, and bullets were found.

As the group moved to the area where a miner's body was found, Farlam went to Maubane and told her he knew how difficult it had to be for her.

Botha continued by pointing out where police found shotgun rounds, gas and stun grenade casings, knobkerries, sharp metal weapons and bullet casings.

The in loco inspection was intended to allow lawyers to familiarise themselves with the area, for when they cross-examine North West deputy police commissioner General William Mpembe and two miners.

Although the sky was overcast in the morning, hats and umbrellas were brought out when the sky cleared and the temperature reached 26°C.

Farlam walked ahead as evidence leader Charles Wessely pointed out the relevant areas and referred to pictures and documents.

The commission walked slowly, stopping as areas of importance were discussed.

Mpembe, dressed in a purple shirt and tie, showed the commission where he addressed the striking miners on 13 August and where he tried to prevent them from heading to the nearby informal settlement.

"I was communicating with them, with the policemen standing on the opposite side," he said.

The policemen, present at the inspection, stood opposite the railway line, the way they had on that day. He pointed out where the police and the miners had been stationed.

Remember the slain

Wessely showed the commission where the body of a miner was found in the nearby informal settlement.

In the morning some relatives of the mineworkers were visibly emotional during the inspection. They held onto each other, some consoling those crying.

Some wore shirts with the words: "Remember the slain at Marikana."

Advocate Dali Mpofu, for the injured and arrested miners, introduced the commission to two miners who were part of that group.

Simphiwe Booi and Xolani Nzuza joined Mpembe in pointing out key areas and routes they planned to testifying on before the inquiry.

Police officers walked in front and behind of, and flanked, the large group as it moved across the veld.

Family members of the miners listened attentively to what was said.

Farlam and other lawyers asked questions for clarity while key positions were pointed out and filmed for the commission.

The commission is probing the deaths of 44 people during an unprotected strike at Lonmin's platinum mine in Marikana.

On 16 August, 34 striking mineworkers were shot dead and 78 injured when police opened fire while trying to disperse a group which had gathered on a hill near the mine.

Ten people, including two police officers and two security guards, were killed near the mine in the preceding week.

The commission would resume on Monday at 10:00 at the Rustenburg Civic Centre, with the cross-examination of national police commissioner Riah Phiyega.

- SAPA
Read more on:    ian farlam  |  mahikeng  |  mining unrest  |  marikana inquiry
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