Marikana Trial: Former cop recorded scenes of bodies found 3 days before massacre

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Miners gathered at the koppie in Nkaneng behind Lonmin mine outside Rustenburg in 2013 to commemorate the fateful day of August 16, 2012 when 34 miners were shot and killed by police  in what is now called the Marikana massacre.
Miners gathered at the koppie in Nkaneng behind Lonmin mine outside Rustenburg in 2013 to commemorate the fateful day of August 16, 2012 when 34 miners were shot and killed by police in what is now called the Marikana massacre.
Picture: Felix Dlangamandla/Foto24
  • A retired policeman has detailed how bodies were found three days prior to the Marikana massacre.
  • Warrant Officer Rapheso Masinya told the court he recorded the horrific scene with his work camera. 
  • Former North West deputy police commissioner William Mpembe and five other officers are standing trial.

A retired policeman has described how bodies of people were found three days prior to the Marikana massacre. 

Warrant Officer Rapheso Masinya, who was attached to the Rustenburg public order policing unit, told the North West High Court in Mahikeng that he recorded the horrific scene with his work camera. 

Masinya said, on that day, he and his colleagues were deployed to a Lonmin Mine.

It is suspected that striking miners were at K3 shaft looking for other miners who had reported for duty. 

Masinya said he met former North West deputy police commissioner Major-General William Mpembe and his subordinates at the scene.

Mpembe was addressing the miners, urging them to surrender their weapons.

"They replied to Mpembe that they were not threatening anyone with their weapons, but were protecting themselves against anyone posing a threat to them. Miners refused to surrender their weapons.

"The striking miners then left the area of K3. I jumped into my commander's car and we drove to where the miners had moved to. There, I saw Mpembe standing in the middle, screaming, 'Where are the cops? They are killing a policeman'. At the time, I was not recording as I had just alighted from the car. 

READ | Marikana Trial: CCTV operator describes scenes where five people were allegedly killed

"I was trying to focus my camera on the officer who was being attacked, and the footage became blurry. The injured officer was taken to a car and driven to hospital," said Masinya. 

"I then filmed a miner who was on the ground and handcuffed from the back. I went to the eastern side and saw a policeman lying motionless on the ground.

"I went further and there was another injured officer, who was later airlifted to hospital. I headed to a shack nearby, where I saw two lifeless bodies lying on the veranda," testified Masinya.

Masinya said that, after filming all the scenes, he was then ordered by a Brigadier Cullet to hand over his cassette containing the footage to Captain Kruger. 

The retired officer said Kruger told him that he (Kruger) had been instructed by Mpembe. 

"Usually, before handing over video footage, a handing-over certificate was supposed to be signed. That procedure was never followed. There were no specific reasons why the handing-over certificate was never signed. 

"We were not in the office and there were no papers to sign. I just followed instructions. I was told the cassette was going to be developed into a CD. I had not viewed the footage I had earlier recorded when I handed it over to Kruger," Masinya said. 

He added that a few days later he received the cassette and three CDs containing the footage from Kruger. 

Mpembe and his fellow officers, Salmon Vermaak, Nkosana Mguye, Collin Mogale, Joseph Sekgwetla and Khazamola Makhubela, have pleaded not guilty to the charges they face.

Mpembe faces four counts of murder and five charges of attempted murder. 

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

A sixth count of attempted murder was earlier withdrawn against Mpembe. 

It is alleged that Mpembe unlawfully and intentionally shot and killed Semi Jokansi, Thembelakhe Mati, Hendrick Monene and Sello Lepaaku. 

Vermaak, Mguye, Mogale, Sekgwetla and Makhubela only face a charge of killing Phumzile Sokhanyile. 

The trial resumes on Thursday.

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