Lonmin workers seen as killers - bishop

2012-11-22 13:02

Rustenburg - Lonmin mine management did not want to negotiate with striking workers because they were "criminals and murderers", the Farlam commission heard in Rustenburg on Thursday.

That was the evidence of Reverend Johannes Seoka, Anglican bishop of Pretoria, which was read out to the commission by Lonmin’s legal representative, advocate Schalk Burger, SC.

The clergyman was taken to task over his evidence, which suggested that Lonmin missed an opportunity to engage and negotiate with strikers on August 16.

Thirty-four striking miners were shot dead on that day and 78 wounded when police tried to disperse the protesters, who had gathered on a hill near the mine.

In the preceding week, 10 people, including two police officers and two security guards, had been hacked to death in violent encounters at the Lonmin platinum mine in Marikana.

‘No signs of anger’

The bishop was part of a group of religious leaders who mediated talks between the strikers and the mine management.

Seoka told the commission on Thursday that when he extended the protesters' request for executives to come to the koppie and negotiate, the language used by the Lonmin representatives was dismissive.

"When I spoke to the protesters, they did not show any signs of anger. The Lonmin representatives I engaged [with] were angry, used strong language and were in denial," said Seoka.

"My engagement was to say to Lonmin, 'these people are ready to listen'. They asked for the employer to come and talk to them," he said.

Burger said Lonmin had reasonable grounds not to visit the koppie, in light of the violence and murders which had taken place on August 12 and 13.

He said mine representatives had told the clergyman that the gathering was illegal and should not be legitimised.

Seoka denied the claims.

"The word "legitimised" was not used in my presence that day [August 16]," he said.

Time of pastor’s visit

As the debate continued, Seoka requested to switch to speaking in Zulu from English. He later reverted to English in some instances.

Burger said that on August 16, the area around the koppie had been declared a security zone by the SA Police Service, which meant that the area was cordoned off by police.

There was argument between Seoka and Burger over the exact time the clergyman had gone to the koppie to interact with the protesters.

Seoka said he did not know the time as he had not checked his watch.

Burger produced photographs taken by police indicating that Seoka was at the koppie at 13:47.

The commission, led by retired judge Ian Farlam, is holding public hearings at the Rustenburg Civic Centre.

On Wednesday, videos which captured the chaos that erupted on August 16 were screened before the commission of inquiry.

The snippets of cellphone videos and photos were taken by a police elite tactical response team unit that intervened to quell the prolonged wage-related protests.

  • albert.m.burger - 2012-11-22 13:13

    But they Did kill... That means what then?

  • chris.braum - 2012-11-22 13:18

    One would not expect a mediator to be as biased as this man obviously is. The fact that he is a Bishop only makes matters worse.

  • bongohead.sipho - 2012-11-22 13:25

    What about the four who were butchered by the criminal mob.? More would have died if our brave police had not defended themselves. Well done to the police.

  • Karabo Phetoane - 2012-11-22 13:35

    The bishop seem to be confused,those guys butchered 4 people and that automatically pronounce them as criminals.If he thought they were killing for good reason,he must be mad and he is not suppose to be giving testimony at the hearings.

  • Ignatious Kudzie Chikafu - 2012-11-22 13:43

    The Bishop is confused and making matters worse. The miners had already killed people which makes them murderous, how then can one engage with criminals? who would have guaranteed the to engage with them's safety. wake up Bishop

  • tshivhombelaf - 2012-11-22 13:44

    Are you not the one who has a history of beating your church attendants? If it's you I don't trust you.

  • customdesign - 2012-11-22 13:44

    Check the video footage and see if they were 'ready to listen'

      alfred.mokganyetsi - 2012-11-25 11:11

      only if u were there u'd know if dey wer ready 2 listen or nt.u make comnts based on 3 sec video clip.u lyk judging ppl wn u dnt know de whole story.only de poliz

  • martin.brink.965 - 2012-11-22 13:50

    I fully agree with Management. I would not have gone either! As far as I am concerned, their viewpoint was completely justified. I wonder if this guy is a bishop in a legit church as I sure would never trust his teachings!

  • Judy - 2012-11-22 13:50

    At Last an INKLING of the REAL TRUTH.

  • tshivhombelaf - 2012-11-22 13:51

    Politicising Marikana makes strikers' lives more valuable than non-strikers. I have never heard about the lost lives of other four innocent citizens being discussed at the commission.

  • collet.letsoalo - 2012-11-22 13:52

    Seen as killers Bishop, because they killed.

  • parys.fotograaf - 2012-11-22 13:53

    Lonmin management was correct as to this. They were however wimps to actually give in to these murderers demands.

  • matthews.magodiela - 2012-11-22 13:57

    God must forgive me to say the Bishop sound drunk. He is burrying his head in the sand to avoid the truth. he is representing the miners not facing reality.

  • JanGrimbeek - 2012-11-22 14:20

    If a pastor can do this "A pastor has been arrested for allegedly raping a 12-year-old girl and sexually assaulting two other girls in the area, police say." then surely a "bishop" have the right to lie under oath on behalve of other entities who pay him to do so !

  • peter.jefferies.90 - 2012-11-22 14:22

    Now a pastor is defending killers!! I love how religion chooses sides!!

  • theMichaelHawthorne - 2012-11-22 14:49

    Yes you did not see anger because your just as stupid as the striker... anc mentality

  • phillip.joubert.56 - 2012-11-22 14:51

    Pas toor you are a spritis drinker piss off and again the police officers was not killed but nicely put to sleep! By the babaric killers

  • theMichaelHawthorne - 2012-11-22 14:51

    Anc mentality...

  • azariel.malesela - 2012-11-22 15:28

    No one has licence to kill anybody, whoever has taken away someone's life must face the wrath of law. Police force must be made aware that they get paid by taxpayers money to protect us not to kill us. I am of the opinion that police are there to protect us, it is on their failure that so many people have died and irrespective of marikana innocent people are losing their lives in the hands of criminals. We dont pay our police to kill us or to be killed by anybody. It will be wrong to create wrong impression that police have got the right to kill, it should be condemned in harsh terms by government. Any killer whether its police or criminal must be arrested. The reason why this marikana thing is so complicated is because of political motives. The ruling party will always view any new Union as their enemy and they will use state resources to fight any such a union. Political intolerance, I mean you can see what going on in their nominations, they are fighting one another therefore imagine if you not from their party or alliance. There is no way normal leaders can protect police when so many lives are lost. Their approach on Marikana matter has since been questionable.

  • TheSingingHorse - 2012-11-22 15:37

    Wonder what made them think that. From video footage it seemed they were having a quiet picnic on the highveld.

  • stavious.mamatepa - 2012-11-22 15:41

    Ofcourse they are killers bishop they killed 2policemen,2security officers

      Jaap - 2012-11-22 16:16

      Maybe this bishop is a part time rabbit farmer!

  • KennySven - 2012-11-22 19:55

    What a dumb idiot,if a rabid dog attacks,shoot it

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