Miners spend another night in cells

2012-08-29 19:37
Picture: AP

Picture: AP

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Ga-Rankuwa - The Lonmin violence accused will spend another night in police cells after the Ga-Rankuwa Magistrate's Court postponed their bail applications on Wednesday.

"I have now heard the arguments and presentations made by both the defence and the State," Magistrate Esau Bodigelo said.

"As you can see, it is after 16:00 now and I will not be in a position to pass my ruling. We will resume this case tomorrow."

The group of 270 men were arrested on August 16 following violence reportedly linked to a wage dispute and trade union turf wars.

The number of accused had increased from 260 as some were released from hospital and taken into custody. They face charges including murder and public violence.

'Unreasonable measures'

Earlier, the miners' lawyer, Lesego Mmusi, said the police used "unreasonable" measures to disperse strikers who had gathered on a hill near the mine, in Marikana.

Mmusi was leading evidence requesting the court to consider the bail application urgent. Police could have implemented other measures and avoided a violent clash, he said.

“It is undisputed that the group had been gathering on that hill every day and dispersing every night. Why didn't the police cordon off the hill at night and in the morning the people would find the place secured?” he asked.

"They [police] didn't apply the reasonable means in this matter. The State did not do its duty and has failed citizens. Even the community there [in Marikana] has been inconvenienced by the police's actions."

Mmusi criticised the State's current arrangement, according to which only a small group from the 270 appeared in court. These men would inform their colleagues of what transpired.

"Suppose this matter goes all the way to the Constitutional Court. We will be asked 'how were you representing people who were not in court?' What if one of our clients, say number 29, wants to raise his hand and make a contribution?" asked Mmusi.


Prosecutor Nigel Carpenter told the court on Monday that arrangements had been made that only three people would be picked per police station to attend the court session.

The Ga-Rankuwa court did not have the capacity to accommodate all the accused.

Mmusi said two of the detained men had gunshot wounds and were not getting treatment in custody. He said all the men should be released as some needed medication for tuberculosis and HIV.

Regarding evidence submitted by head of the Potchefstroom detectives, Brigadier Jacobus van Zyl, who is leading the investigation team, the defence said the police were not doing their job.

"He was given seven days [on August 20] and he had done nothing," said advocate Simon Hlahla, also representing the group.

"What assurance do we have that he will deliver this time? On one of the days, he even attended the memorial service for the deceased people. We don't know what his business was.

"He [Van Zyl] got his bite at the cherry and he let it rot. Now he wants to get a fresh cherry. What assurance do we have that he will deliver?"

Van Zyl was called in as the first State witness on Monday. He supported the State's application for the bail hearing to be postponed for a further seven days.
Read more on:    lonmin  |  mahikeng  |  mining unrest

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