Intimidation haunts Marikana commission

2012-10-22 11:38

Intimidation and threats of violence against witnesses is hampering the collection of statements from potential witnesses by the Marikana Commission of Inquiry.

Advocate Karel Tip, a lawyer representing the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) in the Marikana Commission of Inquiry, told the commission this afternoon that the recent killing of the union’s secretary for the Western Platinum branch, Daluvuyo Bongo, has exacerbated the reluctance of witnesses coming forward.

Tip said Bongo was shot six times at his residence at the Wonderkop hostel just days after pointing out scenes of violence to commission chairperson Judge Ian Farlam during an in-loco inspection of the scenes of the violence.

Bongo was set to testify before the commission, which is investigating circumstances around the violent Lonmin strike that led to the deaths of 46 people.

The killing, Tip said, was “deliberate and targeted” and NUM shopstewards and office bearers have had to flee their residences in fear.

Advocate Schalk Burger, a lawyer representing Lonmin, said intimidation and threats have hampered the collection of statements from witnesses.

Burger said the witnesses have even turned down offers to be put in witness protection programmes, saying their lives would still be in danger.

Earlier, Advocate Ishmael Semenya, who is representing the SA Police Services, told the commission that he intended leading evidence that suggests Lonmin created the volatile situation by entering into a wage agreement with workers in June, outside the collective bargaining regulations and without the involvement of unions.

Semenya said this created the belief among the workers, who later went on an unprotected strike, that they could achieve more without the involvement of unions and outside the collective bargaining processes.

He also said Lonmin’s failure to implement some requirements of the Mining Charter, such as providing proper accommodation for the workers, had led to the volatile situation.

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