Witnesses row at Marikana hearings

2012-11-26 18:38

Rustenburg - A debate over the appearance of witnesses dominated proceedings on Monday at the Farlam Commission into the shooting in Marikana, North West, in which 34 people were killed on 16 August.

Subpoenas had been served on six of the miners who were on strike at the time of the shooting, and who are now represented at the judicial inquiry by lawyer Dali Mpofu.

However, the men did not come forward to give evidence when their names were called at the Rustenburg Civic Centre.

Mpofu objected to the calling of his clients as witnesses, and said he had not been notified by the evidence leading team that this would be done.

He said the men were outside, but had instructed him that they wanted to be led in giving evidence only by their lawyers.

The three-member commission's chairperson, retired judge Ian Farlam, said it "had rights to subpoena anyone, and anyone can be subpoenaed to appear".

"If this commission wants the minister of police, or the premier of the North West to appear and he or she is not willing to do so, they will be subpoenaed to come," said Farlam.

Mpofu argued that his clients should not have been called as witnesses without his knowledge.

"No other witness will be called in this manner. If you want to call a police general, you will speak to the lawyer representing the police.

"These are poor, defenceless people being taken advantage of," he said.

After consensus was reached, five men were brought before the commission and stood next to Mpofu.

Farlam said that, in future, attorneys would be involved when their clients were required to testify before the commission.

Farlam instructed the men to return on Wednesday to give evidence.

He instructed the evidence leading team to make arrangements so that the men would get letters to present to their employer.

Mpofu represents about 275 mineworkers who were arrested on the day of the shooting on a hill near Lonmin mine’s platinum operation in Marikana, North West.

Police opened fire on a group of striking mineworkers encamped on the hill, killing 34 of them and wounding 78 that day.

The group arrested was initially charged with the killings, but after a public outcry, the charges were withdrawn.

Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) president Joseph Mathunjwa was to have testified on Monday, but his appearance was rescheduled for Tuesday, after Timothy Bruinders SC, for Amcu, said it had not received documents key to his testimony.

  • edward.radingoana.1 - 2012-11-26 19:47

    I wonder what is Advocate Mpofu trying to hide this time. I don't think witnesses need notice to give evidence unless they are to lie under oath. Seemingly he is just trying another fame. How can you apply at the High Court to set aside a subpoena of a witness whose evidence has been seen as crucial? I wonder if this is not the delaying tactics on the Commission. The Justice Minister gave the Commission huge powers and seeming it is time we see them enforced.

      glen.e.huysamer - 2012-11-27 08:55

      I don't think it has anything to do with lying, the lawyer is right, if JUJU was or Zuma was called to the stand, the court would have to go through their lawyer. If Lonmin mine bosses and or management were called their lawyers would be told first.... so why should this be the case for the rich and connected and not for the poor and disenfranchised. The lawyer is quite right and was upholding the rights of his clients, but not only that he was demanding respect for his clients, himself and his team as well. It is about following the right procedures, ensuring that there is no side favored inside the court room. I am surprised that these five were not informed through their lawyer, as I am sure that nobody else appearing received any similar treatment thus far. The lawyer was doing his job, and it seems as if he is as sharp as nails. The court had to step back because he was 100% correct. The question is why was the court pushing such a bias oversight?

  • moriri.mosweu - 2012-11-27 01:15 reasons why our people are dying, shocking link

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