Lawyer questions miner's testimony

2013-03-11 21:30
(Picture: Sapa)

(Picture: Sapa)

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Rustenburg - A miner's version of the 16 August Marikana shooting was questioned by the Farlam Commission of Inquiry in Rustenburg on Monday.

Mzoxolo Magidiwana said at the place where police officers shot him there were two journalists - a white journalist and a rastafarian, implying it was a black man with dreadlocks.

"The journalists saw the violence by police officers," he said through an interpreter.

He told the commission he was shot, and when he fell to the ground a Xhosa-speaking police officer with a handgun shot at him at close range.

Vuyani Ngalwana, for the police, said Magidiwana's was an "elaborate story and serious allegations".

"Are you suggesting that police were shooting at you when you were lying on the ground?" Ngalwana asked.

Magidiwana replied: "Yes."

He said police chased away the two journalists, and that it seemed as if the rastafarian was injured.

Ngalwana asked permission to show a video taken "after the initial eight seconds of firing occurred" to see if the footage corroborated Magidiwana's evidence.

When the footage started playing, Magidiwana identified himself as one of the men on the ground. The footage shows armed police officers standing, and people on the ground. Shots are fired occasionally.

Ngalwana put it to Magidiwana that the footage does not show a policeman with a handgun firing at him. He accused the miner of seeing what he wanted to see.

Magidiwana said as he was lying on the ground, officers walked past him and returned to shoot him. This was not in the video, he said.

"Some of the things were captured but were not shown," he said.

"I am talking about something that is on my body. I can undress and show you," he said, referring to his gunshot wounds.

He claimed the police stopped firing at the miners because they "got tired of shooting and killing" and decided to remove the injured and arrest those not injured.

The commission heard that a police officer called for medical assistance for the injured miners.

Find the truth

Commission chairperson, retired judge Ian Farlam, asked if the police calling for help showed "they weren't out to murder".

However, Magidiwana said this was putting it in a "good way".

"If they were not evil people they would not have done what they did that day."

Farlam said: "No stone should be left unturned to find those journalists if they exist.

"We have to keep an open mind. Our work is to find the truth."

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

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.

On Monday morning, the commission heard that human tissue and blood were used to make stronger muti to protect striking mineworkers.

The sons of a sangoma told the miners certain rituals would "render them strong, invincible, and invisible", Ngalwana said.

Ngalwana put it to Magidiwana that a police witness, identified only as "Mr X", would testify that a group known as the "Makarapa" were not afraid of police and took part in various rituals to protect themselves.

He said the Makarapa received cuts and muti was put onto the wounds.

"Mr X would testify that the muti would prevent bullets from penetrating the skin, the sons of the sangoma told the Makarapa," he said.

Magidiwana denied being part of the Makarapa group and said it was the first time he heard of such rituals.

"I said to you that this Mr X must come and answer on his version," Magidiwana added.

The commission resumes on Tuesday with further cross-examination of Magidiwana.

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

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