Marikana: Police’s ‘secret weapon’ can testify by video link

2014-04-15 14:20

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Retired Judge Ian Farlam has ruled that the witness, known as Mr X, will be allowed to testify in camera at the Marikana Commission of Inquiry under certain conditions.

Farlam has put guidelines in place to ensure that the identity of Mr X would not be revealed by any of the parties.

He said a convincing case had been made by the police for the evidence of Mr X to be given via a video link.

If he has to travel to where the commission is sitting from the place where he is staying under witness protection, there is a real risk, so Farlam held, that his whereabouts may be discovered and that he or members of his family may be harmed or even killed.

This finding was based on the history of assassinations of potential witnesses and other mine workers who were not willing to participate in the strike.

Only the commissioners, the evidence leaders, the parties, their legal representatives and accredited media representatives can be present in the auditorium during the testimony of Mr X.

Members of the public might listen to the audio transmission of the testimony of Mr X in the overflow room. Farlam also ordered that members of the media were not to publish Mr X’s name or any other information that may reveal his identity.

His name and picture will only be revealed to the evidence leaders and legal representatives about two weeks before he comes to testify.

Mr X has always been known to be the “secret weapon” for the police. According to an affidavit by Frikkie Pretorius, SAPS lawyer, Mr X will testify about the organising of the strike, intimidation and killing of miners who were not willing to participate in the strike. He will also testify about the killing of Lonmin security guards Hassan Fundi and Frans Mabelani and police officers

According to his statement, he was one of the miners who underwent a ritual where a live sheep was burnt on August 11 2012. This was to prepare for the confrontation with police officers.

The affidavit also details how Mr X will testify against miners who are facing criminal charges and who have been released on bail and are attending the commission.

“Mr X is presently in the witness protection programme of the department of justice. He is assisting the National Prosecuting Authority ... Should he be required to tender his evidence in an open forum of the commission, this may put his life at risk, possibly that of his family,” reads Pretorius’ affidavit.

Dali Mpofu, representative of the wounded and arrested miners, said he was happy that his clients would at least be allowed to sit in the auditorium during the in-camera evidence.

“One of the ludicrous requests from SAPS was that our clients would not be allowed to sit in the auditorium as he [Mr X] gives evidence. But we still need to consult with them and find out what they want. There are really two choices. They either accept the ruling or we go to court to fight it,” said Mpofu.

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