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Marikana strikers fled after torching

2012-11-20 18:44

Rustenburg - Protesting mineworkers ran off after setting fire to Lonmin mine vehicles with security guards inside, the Farlam commission learnt on Tuesday.

Before the video footage captured on 12 August was screened on large television sets inside the Rustenburg Civic Centre, family members and friends were requested to leave.

A few people walked out of the public gallery where members of the families of the deceased, media, some of the people who took part in the protests and community members were following proceedings.

A member of the evidence-leading team showing the footage told the three-member commission that after setting the two men and cars alight, the loose crowd of protesters ran off with a shotgun seized from one of the Lonmin guards.

The commission, led by retired judge Ian Farlam, is investigating the deaths of 34 striking miners in a clash with police near the Lonmin mine in Marikana on 16 August.

Another 78 people were wounded in the shooting and scores were arrested.

In the preceding week, 10 people, including two police officers and two security guards, were killed in violent protests at the mine.

The footage shown on Tuesday was seemingly taken from remote distances and the images were not clear.

On 13 August, the footage showed a confrontation between police officers and a group of protesters armed with pangas, spears, sticks and knobkerries, near railway lines in Wonderkop.

The group knelt down, clutching the weapons as they were addressed by Major General William Mpembe. The police officers appealed to the protesters to surrender their weapons and to stop the illegal gatherings.

Leaders of the protesters declined to hand over the weapons. The group said it would disarm if the police brought the "umlungu", referring to Lonmin mine bosses.

Deadly

Earlier, video footage showed that the traditional weapons were brought in at a later stage of the wildcat strike which turned deadly.

The evidence-leading team screened a series of video clips captured by members of Lonmin security and police officers.

Footage captured on 9 August, during the early stages of the protest, showed the protesters gathered at a Lonmin office in Wonderkop.

The hundreds of protesters were singing and chanting.

No traditional weapons were captured in that scene.

A member of the evidence-leading team stated that evidence would be led to show that the protest action started off without the use of traditional weapons, including pangas, spears, knobkerries, clubs, and sticks.

The team, led by advocate Mbuyiseli Madlanga, had requested to screen video footage captured between 9 and 16 August before the three-member commission.

Scenes captured on 10 and 11 August were significantly different from those of 9 August.

The protesters had brought their traditional weapons with them; some were dancing ecstatically and waving the weapons.

The crowd of protesters marched to a Lonmin office, which was secured by guards and police officers.

Family members, clad mainly in black, stared attentively as the series of videos were played on large television screens.