Tempers flare at Marikana commission

2013-03-05 15:05

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The sparring match between a police lawyer and a survivor of the Marikana shootings came to a somewhat explosive climax which required the intervention of Marikana Commission of Inquiry chairperson, retired judge Ian Farlam.

Police legal counsel Vuyani Ngalwana and Mzoxolo Magidiwana, a victim of the shooting that left 34 mine workers dead in August last year, have been involved in a verbal sparring match of sorts since the lawyer began his cross examination last week.

Ngalwana has spent the better part of three days trying to get Magidiwana to admit he had been part of the group of armed striking mineworkers for much longer than he claimed in his statement.

Magidiwana, who is still suffering the effects of the injuries he sustained in the shooting that left 34 people dead on August 16 last year, has consistently denied this.

Despite several video clips and images placing him at the scene, Magidiwana has consistently denied the evidence.

He has also denied he was part of a group of striking mineworkers who underwent rituals which were believed to have convinced them they would not be penetrated by bullets in the event of an attack.

Magidiwana adopted a confrontational approach in dealing with Ngalwana’s sturdy probing of his testimony.

At times he refused to answer questions, demanding instead that Ngalwana respond to the questions he fired back at him.

Ngalwana often switched from English to isiXhosa in a bid to get on the soft side of the 24-year-old, but this didn’t seem to work.

Magidiwana resorted to using terms such as nonsense, lies and telling Ngalwana he did not know what else to tell him because he had already given him his side of the story.

Ngalwana asked Magidiwana why he did not follow other workers who were dispersing when police set up a barbed wire to disperse a crowd of about 3 000 of his colleagues.

“Don’t lie,” Magidiwana shot back.

This forced Farlam, who had intervened several times to rephrase questions put to Magidiwana, to intervene again.

“Behave yourself and respect this commission,” Farlam said.

Magidiwana seemed subdued after Farlam’s reprimand, leading his lawyer Dali Mpofu to enquire if he was fine to continue the cross examination.

He said he was, but indicated he was frustrated because he did not know how else to answer questions because he had already done so.

This was after he was shown maps depicting several paths that were available to the mine workers to reach their homes, as compared to the ones they chose.

Police are arguing Magidiwana’s group had dashed towards officers during efforts to disperse them in a bid to kill the police.

Magidiwana said they were merely trying to reach their homes in Knaneng informal settlement.

Magidiwana now walks with the aid of crutches as a result of injuries sustained in the shooting that left 16 of the men in his group dead and 18 others killed a few hundred metres away.

The hearing continues.

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