Marikana massacre: Cop bursts into tears recalling how a colleague was hacked to death

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Strike leader Mgcineni Noki, also known as the man in green blanket, rallies the miners at Marikana ahead of their encounter with police that left more than 35 miners dead, shot by the police.
Strike leader Mgcineni Noki, also known as the man in green blanket, rallies the miners at Marikana ahead of their encounter with police that left more than 35 miners dead, shot by the police.
Leon Sadiki/City Press

  • A former SAPS video operator burst into tears when recalling how his colleague was hacked to death by striking mineworkers three days before the Marikana massacre.
  • Rapheso Masinya told the North West High Court in Mahikeng about how warrant officer Sello Lepaaku died on 13 August 2012.
  • Judge Tebogo Djadje adjourned the matter for few minutes to allow Masinya to compose himself.  

A police video operator burst into tears on Tuesday at recalling horrific scenes of his colleague being killed by striking mineworkers three days before the Marikana massacre.

Retired warrant officer Rapheso Masinya told the North West High Court in Mahikeng that on 13 August 2012, he saw when miners were hacking his colleague warrant officer Sello Lepaaku.

"I was alighting out of a car when I saw (former North West deputy commissioner Major General William) Mpembe shouting that where are the police, they (miners) are killing a police officer.

"The standard of the camera I was using could not give me clear pictures as Mpembe was screaming that they are killing a policeman. I focused on the policeman who was being hacked and the video could not record because of the distance.

"Mpembe was near the place where the policeman was being hacked, about 50 metres from where I was. At the time there was no police helicopter on the scene yet," said Masinya.

"I saw with my naked eyes how the officer was being attacked. The video camera couldn't produce any footage when I zoomed and the images were blurry.  I saw a policeman being hacked by miners using dangerous weapons they were carrying.

"I can confirm that two officers were killed, and one was seriously injured by miners. I didn't see Mpembe carrying a weapon. Warrant officer Sello Lepaaku who was hacked by miners was then taken into a car driven by Colonel Merafe. It was not a good sight to see a colleague being attacked," said Masinya, sobbing.

Judge Tebogo Djadje adjourned for a few minutes for Masinya to compose himself.

READ | Marikana massacre: Trial postponed after court interpreter falls ill

The court heard that Lepaaku later succumbed to his injuries.

"I didn't record when Lepaaku was being taken into a police van. At the time, my mind was concentrating on other things happening on the ground. Lepaaku was too weak. I was affected emotionally because Lepaaku was my colleague.

"I saw one helicopter airlifting warrant officer Baloyi for medical attention after being attacked. I also saw a handcuffed miner when I started recording. From there I saw Warrant Officer Monene lying on the ground injured.

"Monene was being assisted next to the helicopter. From there I went to a shack where I found a lifeless male body lying on the stoep, not two bodies as I have earlier said. A spear was lying next to the body," said Masinya.

Mpembe and his ex-colleagues Salmon Vermaak, Nkosana Mguye, Collin Mogale, Joseph Sekgwetla and Khazamola Makhubela have pleaded not guilty on charges of murder and attempted murder. 

Mpembe and Vermaak were also each facing a charge of defeating the ends of justice and another for giving false information under oath before the Farlam Commission of Inquiry into the Marikana massacre between 2013 and 2014. 

The trial continues.

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