Pillay: Lonmin reckless at Marikana

2014-09-09 17:26
Marikana inquiry (Picture: Sapa)

Marikana inquiry (Picture: Sapa)

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Pretoria - Lonmin acted irresponsibly in the period leading up to the August 2012 shooting of its employees, the Farlam Commission of Inquiry heard on Tuesday.

"It is important for me to pursue this point. We must be clear that it was not impossible for Lonmin to instruct workers to stop coming to work," evidence leader Kameshni Pillay said at the inquiry in Pretoria.

She said the families of slain miners Julius Langa and Eric Mabebe had asked her to put the questions to Lonmin marketing director Albert Jamieson, who is the most senior Lonmin executive to testify so far.

"We have seen that that is what management was contemplating at one point. The situation was out of control and Lonmin wasn't able to protect the workers that were coming to work," she said.

"It was reckless for Lonmin to either encourage workers to come to work or not to discourage them from coming to work in those circumstances. Lonmin was aware of the dire threat to the lives and safety of workers coming to work."

Jamieson said he was not involved in this decision-making.

"I would imagine, because I wasn't involved, those decisions and recommendations were made by the people at the mine. I can only presume that it was prudent to keep things going. I can't say anything more than that," he said.

Pillay said Jamieson's response was "not an answer".

Moving on, Pillay focused on an e-mail penned by Jamieson to his Lonmin colleagues on 14 August 2012.

"In that e-mail you are responding to notification that a 10th person had been killed. That person is presumably Mr [Isaiah] Twala, who was killed at the koppie [hill]," said Pillay.

"The e-mail says his body was 'close to the hill where the criminals meet daily'. Is that an indication of how middle management and possibly even the exco [Lonmin executive committee] view people gathered at the koppie?" she asked.

Jamieson responded: "Clearly it is. It's written there. Criminal activity is how it was being described."

Mr X

Police witness, Mr X, told the inquiry in June that Twala was shot by fellow protesters when he was found in possession of a cellphone on 14 August 2012.

Mr X, who may not be identified to protect his identity, said it was alleged Twala was using his cellphone to send information to the rival National Union of Mineworkers (NUM).

Twala's body was found by police on the side of the hill with a bull's skull on his chest.

Mr X said Twala was a shop steward for the NUM at the mine's Karee shaft.

The three-member commission, which is chaired by Farlam, is holding public hearings into the 2012 Marikana shootings. The other commissioners are senior advocates Pingla Hemraj and Bantubonke Tokota.

Thirty-four people, mostly striking miners, were shot dead on 16 August 2012, and 78 were wounded when the police fired on them while trying to disperse and disarm a group which had gathered on a hill near Lonmin's platinum mining operations.

In the preceding week, 10 people, including two policeman and two security guards, were killed near the mine.

President Jacob Zuma appointed the commission in August 2012.

Read more on:    lonmin  |  marikana inquiry

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