Song and dance at Marikana hearing

2012-11-28 21:02
The colourful green and red T-shirts of members of rival unions NUM and Amcu in the auditorium of the Rustenburg Civic Centre during proceedings of the Marikana Commission of Inquiry. Picture: (Lucas Ledwaba, City Press)

The colourful green and red T-shirts of members of rival unions NUM and Amcu in the auditorium of the Rustenburg Civic Centre during proceedings of the Marikana Commission of Inquiry. Picture: (Lucas Ledwaba, City Press)

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Rustenburg - A crowd of Amcu supporters broke into song and dance when proceedings at the Farlam Commission in Rustenburg were adjourned on Wednesday.

The group, wearing green T-shirts, started singing as it left the Rustenburg Civic Centre, where the three-member commission is holding public hearings.

A rival group of activists in the red regalia associated with the Congress of SA Trade Unions and its affiliate, the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), looked on as the Amcu group made its way home.

The group marched across the parking lot and a busy street adjacent to the civic centre.

Union rivalry was evident in the public gallery on Wednesday, when Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) president Joseph Mathunjwa took the stand for a second day.

NUM general secretary Frans Baleni attended Wednesday's proceedings.

Wearing sunglasses, he rose in the public gallery and waved at supporters, who stood up and waved back.

Concluding his testimony, Mathunjwa told the commission that when he left the hill on which striking workers were gathered near Lonmin's platinum mine in Marikana for a second time on August 16, he knew they would be killed.

"It was clear to me that those miners were going to be shot and killed. I told them to disperse."

He said their representatives had told him they appreciated his efforts at trying to resolve a wage impasse, but they would not disperse.

"They told me to leave. After driving for a few metres we stopped. I said we cannot leave the workers, they are going to be killed," said Mathunjwa.

"A comrade we were with in the car said to me: 'If we are all killed, who will then tell the story?' We then drove off."

Mathunjwa said by the time they made their way out of Marikana, the scenario had changed significantly.

"Helicopters were now flying and police officers in berets, wielding rifles, were increasing. Police trucks with barbed wire were now on the scene."

Mathunjwa told the commission the conduct of North West provincial police commissioner Lieutenant General Zukiswa Mbombo convinced him that a decision had been made to shoot the protesters.

Advocate Timothy Bruinders SC, representing Amcu at the commission, asked Mathunjwa if he saw any of the strikers leaving after his warning.

"Yes, I saw some movement right at the back. Some were moving to the east and some were moving to the west. It was a large crowd."

Mathunjwa said police stopped the Amcu delegation while it was leaving Marikana.

"Policemen came out of kombis, they pointed their rifles at our car. That was a traumatic experience. We explained who we were and they allowed us to proceed.

"After crossing the railway line at Marikana, the phone of a comrade we were with rang. I am told the caller said: 'The police are killing the workers'."

Earlier, Mathunjwa was questioned about his trip to the hill on 16 August.

Video evidence shows Amcu national organiser Dumisani Nkalitshana leading the crowd in singing "le NUM sizoyibulala kanjani, iNUM siyayizonda [How can we kill NUM? We hate NUM]".

Mathunjwa said the song was metaphoric, and that nobody had intended killing anyone.

He said he later approached Nkalitshana and instructed him not to sing the song again as it would be "misinterpreted by others".

He said he believed the Marikana shooting could have been avoided, with the co-operation of North West senior police officers, unions, and Lonmin mine management.

- SAPA
Read more on:    cosatu  |  amcu  |  num  |  ian farlam  |  frans baleni  |  joseph mathunjwa  |  zukiswa mbombo  |  mahikeng  |  marikana inquiry  |  mining unrest
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