Marikana witness 'fears for his safety'

2013-02-14 16:04
Judge Ian Farlam, chairperson of the Marikana commission of inquiry. (Picture: AFP)

Judge Ian Farlam, chairperson of the Marikana commission of inquiry. (Picture: AFP)

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Rustenburg - No witness testifying at the Farlam commission of inquiry in Rustenburg should be intimidated, chairperson judge Ian Farlam said on Thursday.

"It is important for all of us that the commission is allowed to do its work without anyone being intimidated," he said.

"Up to now the commission proceeded in a harmonious fashion. It is important for the commission to work properly to ascertain the truth of these events. All witnesses that come to testify should be able to do so without fear or violence..."

Farlam was addressing the commission at the Rustenburg Civic Centre after a witness indicated he could no longer sleep at his house, because three men were looking for him.

Intimidation

Dali Mpofu, for the injured and arrested miners, called Vusimuzi Mandla Mabuyakhulu to testify.

Mabuyakhulu is a 32-year-old rockdrill operator at Lonmin's Karee mine.

The inquiry heard he was previously a member of the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), but joined the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu).

Speaking through a translator, he told the inquiry that someone at the commission told him not to go home. Since then he had been staying with his lawyers.

"On Tuesday, I was approached by a person at the commission saying members of the NUM were looking for me," the said.

"I was not feeling very safe."

Karel Tip, for NUM, said Mpofu told him on Thursday morning about the incident and said it was "unfortunate" that it was not brought to his attention earlier.

"No event of this kind would have been sponsored by any structure of the NUM," Tip told the commission.

He assured the commission the union was opposed to "any sort of unlawful intimidation".

Protection

Farlam assured Mabuyakhulu the commission would do its best to ensure anyone found intimidating a witness faced the full "wrath" of the law.

"If anything happens, don't hesitate to inform the commission," Farlam said to Mabuyakhulu.

"We will see to it... that you receive the protection you require."

He said witness protection was available should anyone need it.

Mabuyakhulu was shot and assaulted on 11 August 2012.

The commission is probing the deaths of 44 people during an unprotected strike at Lonmin's Marikana mine. On 16 August, 34 striking mineworkers were shot dead and 78 injured when police opened fire while trying to disperse a group that 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 morning's procedures started with Mpofu seeking clarity from NUM president Senzeni Zokwana on the songs union members sung at protests. Zokwana earlier testified they were threatening. However, on Thursday he said not all the songs should be taken literally.

The inquiry continues.

- SAPA

Read more on:    ian farlam  |  mahikeng  |  marikana inquiry
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