Union boss quizzed about Marikana violence

2012-11-29 13:40

Rustenburg - Acts of violence, murder, and destruction of property were in contrast with the modus operandi of Amcu, union president Joseph Mathunjwa said on Thursday.

He made the remarks at the Farlam Commission, at the beginning of his cross-examination by advocate Ishmael Semenya SC, representing the police.

Semenya sought answers from Mathunjwa regarding his personal stance, and that of the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu), on a number of issues, including violence.

"As a leader, do you condemn unlawful damage of property? So when you see torched vehicles belonging to Lonmin mine, do you condemn such acts?" Semenya asked.

"I condemn unlawful damage to property, not only for Lonmin property, but anywhere where it happens. That is also the position of Amcu," Mathunjwa replied.

"As a leader, do you condemn protests? I take it that as a party you distance yourself from any armed protests," Semenya asked.

Video footage

Mathunjwa agreed.

Semenya screened a video, taken by the police on August 13.

The footage shows a group of armed protesters, heavily armed with weapons including pangas, spears and knobkerries.

There is a confrontation, with police, who demand that the strikers surrender their weapons. The group refuses, and goes on its way.

The video ends while the group is making its way to a hill near Lonmin's platinum mine in Marikana. Police officers are seen pointing firearms at them.

There was another confrontation between police and the striking workers moments later. Two officers were hacked to death.


Mathunjwa was asked whether he had condemned these armed protests.

"It has to be known that this was not a strike called by Amcu. It was the workers’ strike," he said.

"I have never seen any document where you, as a leader, condemned that armed protest. Where did that happen?" Semenya asked.

"There are instances where I addressed the workers at the mountain," Mathunjwa replied.

"I am not sure you are not telling us you told the workers that you condemn the armed protests. You, as Mathunjwa, did you condemn this armed protest? Where did you do it?" Semenya asked.

"You may say that, but the message was clear: we are against any bloodshed," said Mathunjwa.

"On SAfm, [during an interview] we mentioned that we are against any form of violence... [and in] some letter I wrote to management and with the media briefing," he said.

Three-member commission

However, Semenya put it to him: "You have not been recorded anywhere saying you condemn armed protests in the media coverage you got. I want to know if you ever took a moment to tell your Amcu members that you condemn armed protests."

Mathunjwa responded: "We did that, like I have said before."

"Mr Mathunjwa, did you see the protesters in that video walking away in flagrant disregard of a lawful instruction by police to lay down their weapons? Are you prepared to condemn such actions to all Amcu members listening?" asked Semenya.

"I saw that there was a negotiation there between the police and the protesters. I don't have a problem [with condemning such protests]. I, Joseph Mathunjwa, condemn any form of armed protests," he said.
The cross-examination continues.

The three-member commission, which is led by retired judge Ian Farlam, is holding public hearings at the Rustenburg Civic Centre as part of a probe into the killing of 44 people during wage-related, violent strikes at Marikana, in North West.

  • michael.smit.73997 - 2012-11-29 13:58

    unions are all about wanting power n money

      sandra.j.rennie - 2012-11-29 15:13

      If you ask me Unions will soon be on their way out ! Bye Cosatu, Numsa and now Amcu. Go earn your money like ordinary people do !

  • John - 2012-11-29 14:11

    Who gave thug force the right to disarm private individuals? The thug force is to keep the PEACE, NOT to threaten private individuals with firearms! There is NO lawful instruction from a thug until he lawfully arrests one! The thug is a servant, he is no one's MASTER! It's time they took cognisance of this FACT! ARREST someone who breaches the PEACE then issue INSTRUCTIONS otherwise move on. STUPID USELESS THUGS!!

  • John - 2012-11-29 14:29

    Anyone who threatens the life or property of another should be arrested on the sworn complaint of the complainant and brought before a magistrate. A thug who points a firearm is a violator and an aggressor of another's rights and should be arrested. Everyone has the RIGHT to defend one's life and one's property against an aggressor.

  • AceOfSpades - 2012-11-29 14:34

    Little too late....

  • werner.dippenaar.77 - 2012-11-29 14:36

    Nobody agrees with blatant violence against any person, but these miners and their unions are holding this country hostage, by demonstrating their ignorance for the constitution and the laws of the land. The police have to be able to perform their duty otherwise why do they exist. It is time that human rights are moved aside and re evaluated. Only a healthy economy and justice system can feed a nation.

      alfred.mokganyetsi - 2012-11-29 18:22

      yes,human rights shud b re-evaluluated.thanks 4 de advice,i neva knew miners hv no human rights.

      alfred.mokganyetsi - 2012-11-29 18:23

      yes,human rights shud b re-evaluluated.thanks 4 de advice,i neva knew miners hv no human rights.

  • pages:
  • 1