Miners begged for their lives - survivor

2012-09-05 11:05
(Denis Farrell, AP)

(Denis Farrell, AP)

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Marikana miners released

2012-09-04 08:29

The first group of about 50 Marikana miners were released on warnings by the Ga-Rankuwa Magistrate's Court. Watch. WATCH

Johannesburg - Striking Lonmin workers were "shot for fun while down on their knees with their hands up in the air and begging for their lives", said a mineworker who was released from police custody this week, The Star reported on Wednesday.

Mineworker Lungisile Lutshetu reportedly told the newspaper that he had seen at least 15 people being shot dead or left injured, "only for some of the injured to be shot again in the head later and finished".

"When everyone left the mountain towards the shacks where they live, I also joined those who went down the mountain at the back towards Marikana West, where we live," he was quoted as saying.

Shot at close range

"We did not walk far and saw people running back towards us because police had blocked their way, and suddenly shooting started on the other side of the koppie.

"We ran back to the koppie and there I found a hiding place between two large rocks, but then police were already all over the place. Those in front of me were shot at close range and fell over me, and that's how my life was spared," said Lutshetu.

He said he saw a Sotho man kneeling next to a big stone with his hands up.

"He begged for his life and apologised profusely for something he didn't know about, but heartless officers riddled him with automatic rifles, which pierced through his body.

"I remained still, with the dead and injured piling over and against me. Later they realised I was still alive and they pulled me out, ordered me to the ground and with others, we were asked to slither on our stomach towards a police Nyala," he said.

"They screamed at a man who had been shot in the leg...to keep limping even after a bone fragment protruded through his leg. We spent about three hours lying on our stomachs. The unlucky ones who dared raise their heads were killed."

Lutshetu said the police "boasted about how many people they have shot and how they still wanted to kill more".

Soaked in blood

"They were proud of what they were doing... My clothes were soaked in blood and they asked why I wasn't dead, and all I could say was 'sorry', and I think my life was spared after paramedics arrived and asked them not to shoot the injured," he said.

Workers at Lonmin's Marikana mine have been on strike for the last three weeks, demanding a salary of R12 500 a month.

On August 16, police fired on a group of protesting workers at the mine, killing 34 and wounding 78. Another 10 people had died earlier in the week, including two policemen and two security guards.

President Jacob Zuma has appointed a judicial commission of inquiry to probe the mine violence in which 44 people died.

Read more on:    lonmin  |  police  |  mahikeng  |  mining unrest

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