Release Marikana 4 - rights group

2012-10-25 07:28
Loved ones cry at the Marikana inquiry. (Felix Dlangamandla, Beeld)

Loved ones cry at the Marikana inquiry. (Felix Dlangamandla, Beeld)

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Johannesburg - The four Lonmin miners arrested in connection with killings at the Marikana hostels must be released, the Socio-Economic Rights Institute of SA (Seri) said on Wednesday.

"It appears, prima facie, that the arrested persons were targeted because they were assisting us at the commission," Seri attorney Teboho Mosikili said in a statement, referring to the Farlam judicial commission of inquiry.

"Seri can no longer, in good conscience, provide to the commission, or the parties to it, information relating to the identities of potential witnesses who may provide information and testimony adverse to the police."

He said the four people were helping them and the lawyers, led by advocate Dali Mpofu, for 275 arrested miners and the injured, in their work at the Farlam inquiry. It is investigating how and why 34 Lonmin mineworkers were shot dead in Marikana on August 16.

Fear of retribution

North West police spokesperson Brigadier Thulani Ngubane earlier denied that the miners were arrested because they intended giving evidence to the commission.

Mosikili said the arrests were affecting Seri's ability to prepare for the commission.

"It is no answer to suggest that the arrested persons will be made available for the parties to consult with, and to appear at the commission if necessary," he said.

"They are unlikely to do so without fear of retribution while in police custody."

Mosikili said they wrote to lawyers for the police and to the commission on Wednesday asking for their immediate release.

Seri would apply for the commission to be postponed, when it reconvened on Monday, should it not receive such an undertaking.

Police deny intimidation claims

Ngubane said the four were arrested at 15:00 on Tuesday in a vehicle as they were coming from the inquiry.

"In the past three weeks, four mineworkers were brutally murdered and police have been working tirelessly in their endeavour to arrest the perpetrators," he said at the time.

Mpofu told the commission on Tuesday that five of his witnesses, two of them key witnesses, had been arrested.

Ngubane denied this was an intimidation tactic.

"We are confident that there is evidence linking the arrested suspects to the killing of the victims," he said.

Last week, mineworkers at the Lonmin mine went on strike in protest against the arrests.
In all, eight people have been arrested for murders committed after the August 16 shooting.
- SAPA
Read more on:    lonmin  |  police  |  ian farlam  |  dali mpofu  |  mahikeng  |  mining unrest  |  marikana inquiry  |  mining
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