Marikana evidence leader supports bid for Mr X

2014-03-17 17:04
A screengrab from the documentary Miners Shot Down (YouTube)

A screengrab from the documentary Miners Shot Down (YouTube)

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Pretoria - A police witness, only identified as Mr X, should testify from a remote location, the Farlam Commission of Inquiry heard on Monday.

Evidence leader Kameshni Pillay supported an application to have Mr X testify in-camera through a video link.

"On a factual basis, having regard to all the factors, it has been shown to be reasonably necessary for Mr X to testify in-camera and via the video link," she said.

The life of Mr X and his family would be in danger if the commission demanded that he travel to testify daily at the public hearings in Centurion.

"Having regard to what we understand to be the version of Mr X and the extent to which he directly implicates individuals, whom he said are capable of brutal violence, it is reasonable to draw the conclusion that his life will be in danger.

"There have been a number of witnesses who have not only been threatened but have also lost their lives," said Pillay.

Farlam has authority to make arrangements

Sesi Baloyi, for the SA Police Service, earlier submitted the application for Mr X to testify through a video link.

Baloyi said the commission chaired by retired judge Ian Farlam had the authority to make such special arrangements for a particular witness.

The man identified as Mr X was apparently part of a group of protesting miners which underwent a ritual at Marikana that included the burning of live sheep on the night of 11 August 2012.

The rituals were a preparation for a confrontation with police, according to documents in the SAPS application.

He would testify about "the killing and intimidation of Lonmin employees who were unwilling to take part in the violent strike".

Baloyi said Mr X's name would be disclosed only to the commissioners of the inquiry, and lawyers for the wounded and arrested miners, but they could not disclose it to anyone.

When Mr X testified, the SAPS wanted only the commissioners, lawyers, and accredited media to be present in the auditorium.

Miners’ lawyers oppose application

The SAPS proposed that Mr X testify from a remote location.

"Members of the public willing to listen to the evidence of Mr X may do so by listening to audio transmission. The media reporting on his evidence should not identify him or in any way disclose his identity," said Baloyi.

"Any video footage recording the evidence should be blurred or blacked-out so as not to disclose his identity in any way."

The SAPS application was opposed by Dali Mpofu, SC, for the wounded and arrested miners, Dumisa Ntsebeza, SC, for the families of slain miners, and Anthony Gotz for the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu).

Concern over killings

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

The police shot dead 34 people, mostly striking mineworkers, wounded over 70, and arrested 250 on 16 August 2012 while trying to disarm and disperse them. In the preceding week, 10 people, including two policemen and two security guards, were killed.

In August 2013, Farlam expressed concern about murders linked to possible witnesses of the inquiry.

"It is a matter of concern because a number of people connected to this commission have been assassinated. It is a matter which I am sure is receiving attention from the authorities," he said
- SAPA
Read more on:    amcu  |  ian farlam  |  marikana inquiry
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