Marikana miners haunted by police attack

2014-09-30 20:04
George Bizos, lawyer for the miners, stands in contemplation, during the Farlam commission investigation near Lonmin mine in Marikana. (Mujahid Safodien, AFP)

George Bizos, lawyer for the miners, stands in contemplation, during the Farlam commission investigation near Lonmin mine in Marikana. (Mujahid Safodien, AFP)

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Marikana - Lonmin miners who survived the 16 August 2012 shootings at Marikana said on Tuesday they were haunted by memories of the confrontation with police.

"As I hid on this spot, I saw two of my colleagues surrendering. Their hands were fully raised," Lonmin mineworker Shadrack Mtshamba said.

He was in an area referred to by the Farlam Commission of Inquiry as koppie three. The commission, led by retired Judge Ian Farlam, was at Marikana, near Rustenburg, North West, on Tuesday for an inspection in loco.

"When the police found some of us from the hiding places, we were beaten and dragged to the point where we were arrested. The police beat us repeatedly," Mtshamba told reporters.

"As you can see, there are thorns and rocks on this area. Since then, not one of us has received counselling. We are traumatised even now. This place brings back bad memories."

Some Lonmin miners, who did not want to be named, said theirs had been a long wait for justice.

Evidence leader Matthew Chaskalson led a large delegation of commissioners, lawyers, journalists, surviving miners and widows near the hill in Wonderkop, Marikana.

A few of the miners wore red EFF T-shirts while some widows wore green Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) regalia.

Compared to the previous inspection in loco, there were fewer miners and widows.

Numerous police officers accompanied the delegation. A few Nyala armoured personnel carriers were parked nearby.

The previous inspection, on 8 September, was terminated due to security concerns. Chaos erupted when a woman wearing a red National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) T-shirt joined the inspection. Miners threatened her, shouting obscenities.

The area has been marked by rivalry between the NUM and Amcu.

Amcu replaced the NUM as the dominant union at Lonmin's platinum mining operations during the 2012 strike.

‘Cut the nonsense’

During the 8 September spat Farlam intervened, telling the miners to "cut the nonsense", but his calls were ignored.

The commission is investigating the deaths of 44 people during unrest at Lonmin's platinum mine in Marikana in August 2012.

Thirty-four people, mostly striking mineworkers, were shot dead in a clash with the police on 16 August.

More than 70 people were wounded and more than 200 were arrested. The police were apparently trying to disarm and disperse them.

In the preceding week, 10 people, including two policemen and two Lonmin security guards, were killed.

Read more on:    amcu  |  num  |  lonmin  |  police  |  eff  |  ian farlam  |  mahikeng  |  marikana inquiry

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