I condemned violent protests - Amcu boss

2012-11-29 18:00
Joseph Mathunjwa. Picture: Beeld

Joseph Mathunjwa. Picture: Beeld

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Rustenburg - President of Amcu Joseph Mathunjwa said he condemned the violent protests which engulfed mining operations in Marikana, North West in August.

He was cross-examined on Thursday by advocate Ishmael Semenya SC, representing the SA Police Service at the Farlam commission.

A video captured by members of SAPS on 16 August, hours before the shooting which killed 34 protesters, was played on numerous large televisions in the Rustenburg Civic Centre on Friday.

"Nowhere in that clip are you saying the protesters should surrender their weapons and should disperse. You are not saying they must leave the koppie [hill]," said Semenya.

"All I was pleading for on that day was for the people to avoid bloodshed," said Mathunjwa.

"You agree with me that it was a profoundly significant statement to avoid the bloodshed if you had told the protesters to leave the koppie. Telling them to leave that koppie would have been one of the most significant statement you would have told them," said Semenya.

Mathunjwa responded: "That tape [footage] is not conclusive of what I said at the mountain [on 16 August]. I told them [protesters] that if the ram retreats, it doesn’t mean it has been defeated. By saying that, I meant they had to leave the koppie."

Mathunjwa argued that on 15 August he had not promised North West senior police officers that the protesters were going to disarm, disperse, and return to work.

He said the Amcu delegation told the officers that the protesters wanted to engage further with the employer, giving hope of the protesters returning to work.

"The discussion was set to continue the following day. We were supposed to meet the following day. General [William] Mpembe [North West deputy provincial police chief] said he believed the strike would be over. He saluted me," said Mathunjwa.

Semenya asked: "I am confused, did you or did you not tell the [police] generals that night that the protesters were going to disarm at 09:00 on 16 August? Should I repeat myself?"

"No, I did not tell them that," responded Mathunjwa.

The cross-examination continues.

The three-member commission, which is led by retired judge Ian Farlam, is holding public hearings as part of a probe into the killing of 44 people during wage-related, violent strikes at Marikana.

Thirty-four striking miners were shot dead on 16 August and 78 were wounded when the police fired on them while trying to disperse a group which had gathered on a hill near the mine.

In the preceding week, 10 people, including two police officers and two security guards, were hacked to death near the mine.

The commission was announced by President Jacob Zuma in August. The other commissioners are senior advocates Bantubonke Tokota SC and Pingla Hemraj SC.

Zuma said the commission would complete its work within four months, and would have to submit its final report a month later.

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