Amcu witness threatened

2012-11-06 22:15

Rustenburg - A witness affiliated to the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) was threatened, a union lawyer said at the Farlam Commission of Inquiry on Tuesday.

Heidi Barnes told the commission she wanted it put on record that Jimmy Gamma, treasurer of Amcu, was threatened on Monday.

"Three men wearing balaclavas threatened Mr Gamma's child and said they would come back for his father that night," she said.

Retired judge Ian Farlam, who chairs the commission, asked if she knew who might be behind the intimidation, but Barnes said this was not known.

Farlam said: "This sounds like a very clear case of intimidation".

He said the matter was very serious.

The commission is holding public hearings in Rustenburg, North West, as part of its inquiry into a shooting by the police in Marikana that left 34 Lonmin miners dead and 78 wounded.

Ten people, among them two security guards and two policemen, died the week before the shooting and two people died afterwards.

Tuesday's afternoon session of the hearings saw a discussion on which parties would be called next.

Evidence leader Mbuyiseli Madlanga said he was opposed to the SA Police Service calling its witnesses first, as documents requested from Saps had not all been handed over.

"If Saps were to start with their case now, we will not be in a position to meet that presentation," he said.

Barnes and Dali Mpofu, for the injured and arrested miners, were opposed to this.


Mpofu said he did not want to call his witnesses prematurely and out of the order of the narrative he intended to present.

He suggested that the police witnesses be called in the meantime as they were prepared.

Madlanga said he would engage with the other parties in an attempt to reach an agreement.

Mpofu agreed to try to reach a compromise.

Responding to concerns that other witnesses might be intimidated, Farlam said the same witness protection principles which applied to the criminal justice system applied to the commission.

Earlier, the police began making its presentation on events leading up to the fatal shooting of 34 protesters on 16 August.

Colonel Victor Visser started the presentation which gave a detailed timeline of events beginning from Friday 10 August.

Visser said he had not been present at the events around Lonmin's Marikana mine.

The presentation's introduction explained that the police's normal role had been extended during this time to include negotiation.

"Police are part of the community... The police are affected in the same way as anyone else," Visser said.


The presentation contextualised events by drawing attention to conflict between the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and Amcu.

The commission was shown photographs of the security guards' bodies.

One showed one of the guards had his tongue cut out. The legs of the other guard were visible in the charred remains of a security vehicle torched by the protesters.

Another photograph showed a group of marchers fleeing with a shotgun stolen from the security guards.

In the morning session, parties made submissions on which elements the commission should deal with in the first phase of the inquiry.

On Monday, Ishmael Semenya raised objections to the initial phase focusing on the conduct of the Saps, which he represents, on 16 August.

He argued that this approach would not sufficiently contextualise the events of that day and that the conduct of the unions, Lonmin and other protesters needed to be taken into account.

Nicole Lewis, for the families of those killed, contended that the approach was justified because the "Saps was the only party which was the physical cause" of the deaths on 16 August.

By the end of proceedings on Tuesday, Semenya and the parties agreed that the Saps' conduct be examined in the first phase.

The hearings will resume on Thursday.