Questions over Marikana strikers' weapons

2012-12-04 18:01

Rustenburg - The purpose of the weapons striking miners wielded before the deadly 16 August shooting in Marikana was debated at the Farlam Commission, in Rustenburg, on Tuesday.

Dumisa Ntsebeza SC, for the families of 34 workers shot dead, was cross-examining Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) president Joseph Mathunjwa.

Ntsebeza said the families he represented believed the SA Police Service and Lonmin mine management were responsible for the Marikana shooting.

He asked Mathunjwa: "Is it your evidence that if people are armed with assegais and pangas, it does not necessarily make them a violent people?"

Mathunjwa responded: "That is correct."

Ntsebeza asked Mathunjwa why he was "unperturbed" by the crowd of armed protesters and their singing and clashing of weapons.

Mathunjwa said: "It is because of where I am coming from. In my culture, it is December now and we will be going back home where I will take my sharpened stick.

"As we sing and dance, we do the clashing of the weapons every time."

Ntsebeza said that in the Xhosa culture, people attended initiation ceremonies armed to the teeth, but that nothing happened. Sometimes there were stick fights in which people were injured.

Mathunjwa agreed.

Ntsebeza then referred to a song which was led by Amcu national organiser Dumisani Nkalitshana, in Mathunjwa’s presence, during a visit to a hill where workers had gathered on August 16.

The lyrics say: "le NUM sizoyibulala kanjani, iNUM siyayizonda [How can we kill NUM? We hate NUM]."

Ntsebeza asked Mathunjwa to explain the role of songs in cultural events.

At that stage, Lonmin counsel Schalk Burger SC, objected.

"Can my colleague [Ntsebeza] explain what he means by cultural event? What is the meaning of a cultural event? I want to be following but I can’t," said Burger.

Ntsebeza then asked Mathunjwa to explain the role of songs at ceremonies.

Burger objected again: "What ceremony was it at the koppie [hill]? I don’t know whether he is referring to an event at Loftus [rugby stadium], the gathering at the koppie or a wedding. What kind of gathering is he [Ntsebeza] referring to?"

The commission's chairperson, retired judge Ian Farlam, said there was a need to distinguish between the songs and the events.

Ntsebeza said that at stadiums, fans sang songs suggesting that they wanted "to kill and finish off" their opponents.

"When [Orlando] Pirates and [Kaizer] Chiefs play, words like 'Wafa wafa' are used. [Die, die, you are going to die]," said Ntsebeza.

"In intense situations, these songs are meant to give courage to those who face confrontation. Students used to do it when they were surrounded by police with dogs."

The three-member commission is probing the deaths of 44 people in strike-related violence at Lonmin's platinum mine in Marikana, North West.

They include 34 people shot dead by the police, who opened fire while trying to disperse a group of strikers gathered on a hill near the mine on 16 August.

In the preceding week, 10 people, among them two policemen and two security guards, were hacked to death near the mine.

President Jacob Zuma announced the commission in August, saying it would complete its work within four months, and would have to submit its final report a month later.

  • asdhasgd - 2012-12-04 18:08

    "Is it your evidence that if people are armed with assegais and pangas, it does not necessarily make them a violent people?" K. So if i goto a march with a samurai sword with the intention of killing someone i guess that doesnt make me a violent person either. Idiots.

      Punungwe - 2012-12-04 18:36

      In this case the weapons had already been used to kill 10 defenceless people. What is there to debate about them.

      frikdt - 2012-12-04 18:38

      Exactly! Alternatively, we may assume that this "not necessarily violent" crowd had nothing to do with the killing of security guards and policeman in the days leading up to the 16 Aug. shootings. The only logical conclusion is that the pangas, assegais etc. sneaked off of their own accord and did the hacking and stabbing all by themselves. But even then the "not necessarily violent" crowd are still guilty of aiding and abetting these malevolent objects by providing them with much needed means of transport to the hot spot.

  • chris.braum - 2012-12-04 18:14

    Shall we just forget that those weapons had already been used to kill 10 people. Shall we also just forget the words of extreme violence as heard on television.

  • kevin.nicklin - 2012-12-04 18:14

    These people armed with sticks had previously killed security guards and policemen. So claiming that it was for display or ritual is non sense. They had already killed with these weapons!

      asdhasgd - 2012-12-04 18:31

      Exactly! and these were the same ppl who charged at police with spears and pangas! you mean to tell me that those weapons were for display only?? KUK!!

      John - 2012-12-04 21:54

      YOU know it was the same ones?

  • shirley.steenkamp - 2012-12-04 18:31

    Oh please! Cultural my @ss! They were their armed to do damage to anyone who tried to stop their illegal strike. Why did they consult traditional healers for muti to make them invincible! I suppose the hacking to deth of the policeman was also cultural? This is a crock of hogwash! Guilty-now accept punishment!

      John - 2012-12-04 21:51

      Pray tell, what is an ILLEGAL strike? constitution, section 23 (2)

      scebberish.umfazi - 2012-12-05 07:18

      John, you sure your real name is not "Dick"!

  • Punungwe - 2012-12-04 18:35

    The weapons had already been used to kill 10 defenceless people. What is there to debate about them.

      John - 2012-12-04 21:40

      Possibly 6 ? defenceless people? Cops and security are armed!

  • samuelbowker - 2012-12-04 18:52

    Even if the weapons were cultural, they need to update their culture. You cannot run around carrying stone age weapons in the modern age and expect to be treated like gentlemen. Common knowledge: live by the sword die by the sword. That said, don't bring a knife to a gunfight.

      blip.noodlum - 2012-12-04 21:45

      Carry assault rifles with bayonets fixed.

  • kevin.nicklin - 2012-12-04 18:53

    This enquiry into the miners killings is starting to waste tax payers money. It's dragging on now for too long with baseless arguments! Focus on the facts and conclude on your findings!

  • mauritz.duplessis.1 - 2012-12-04 19:04

    So carrying a weapon in public that is drawn or wielded in hand is just supposed to be taken with a pinch of salt? The murder of the police men and security gaurds were probably an accident seeing that these weapons were not used for the purpose of violence, just for 'cultural' reasons? BULL! Then it must be in their culture to kill when you oppose them or disagree with them. Nice, what a way to contribute to a peaceful society!

  • Andre Kritzinger - 2012-12-04 19:18

    There intent was clear. Spending millions on this commission and will still come to wrong conclusion. Really not sure what the end game is.

  • Sbuda Faya Thefirestarta - 2012-12-04 19:34

    this is the weirdest thing i've ever read, so while we thought people were on strike people wee actually on a ceremonial event hahahahah

  • Sbuda Faya Thefirestarta - 2012-12-04 19:36

    im never going to no ceremony askies

  • altusvanzyl - 2012-12-04 19:56

    Dafuq?? Your culture is pretty messed up!!

  • theMichaelHawthorne - 2012-12-04 20:08

    If I say how can we kill the anc I hate them I would be locked up...

  • piet.snot.77964 - 2012-12-04 20:25

    And what if my 'cultural weapon' is a firearm - in some families firearms are (were )a part of life. Would it be ok if I went to 'events' waving my Colt 1911 around? No I have to have it concealed and not allowed at any 'events' either. I then call for all 'cultural weapons' to be concealed and carried in sheathes !

  • george.pito - 2012-12-04 20:34

    In other words if you are black you can sing what you like, say what you like, carry wahtever dangerous weapon that you like and call it cultural. I call it barbaric. Whatever suites them is the order of the day. Orlanod pirates what crap are this court busy with. This only proofs that they are not ready for democracy. Sorry but hopefully young educated blacks are our only hope to show the world we can do it together. Apartheid had a place in time and probably made this country the best in Africa. Now the future is in the hand of young black people to come to the table and make this country work.

  • patricia.dewet.92 - 2012-12-04 21:51

    What is their lawyer trying to do. Striking with these weapons are ok??? I think it is dangerous and intimidating.

  • John - 2012-12-04 22:16

    They were armed so that they could take on a force of 400 trained men armed with automatic rifles, water cannon, nyalas, helicopters. That is called MASS suicide!

      scebberish.umfazi - 2012-12-05 07:22

      John, Actually its called law enforcement! Usually happens when a rabid murderous mob are on the loose, Armed law enforcement are deployed to prevent innocents from frenzied gangs. You obviously educated in Limpopo.

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