2 minute read
8 Sep 2014
1:19 pm

Miners shout insults during Marikana inspection

Miners shouted obscenities at a woman wearing a red National Union of Mineworkers T-shirt when she joined the Farlam Commission of Inquiry's inspection in loco in Marikana, North West, on Monday.

FILE PICTURE: People in Marikana commemorate 34 mine workers who were massacred by police in 2012. Picture: Nigel Sibanda

“Voetsek [bugger off]. F*** you,” the miners shouted at the woman, who took cover among police officers.

The commission’s chairman, retired judge Ian Farlam intervened, telling the miners to “cut the nonsense”.

“I am in charge of this inquiry and this is a public place. Everyone is free to wear what they want. You have your Amcu [Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union] T-shirts on,” he said.

Police warned the miners that they could be charged with intimidation. No arrests were made.

The commission is investigating the deaths of 44 people during unrest at Lonmin’s platinum mine in Marikana in August 2012.

Thirty-four people, mostly striking mineworkers, were shot dead in a clash with the police on August 16. More than 70 people were wounded and more than 200 were arrested. The police were apparently trying to disarm and disperse them at the time.

In the preceding week, 10 people, including two policemen and two Lonmin security guards, were killed.

Earlier this month, Farlam said Monday’s inspection would focus only on areas linked to the shootings on August 16.

“We are confining our attention to the events of the 16th [August 2012]. We anticipate that it will probably take us the whole day,” he said.

Several police Nyalas (armoured vehicles) and a water cannon were at the hill where the miners were shot. A helicopter hovered overhead.

During an on the scene inspection in October 2012, two North West crime scene experts led Farlam and his team around the area where the 34 were shot dead.

Warrant Officer Patrick Thamae pointed out where bodies were found near the hill where the mineworkers had assembled in the days leading up to August 16.

Another inspection was held in March 2013 near Lonmin’s K3 shaft. The commission’s members retraced the steps of miners and police officers on August 13.

On that day, Warrant officers Hendrick Tsietsi and Sello Ronnie Lepaaku were hacked to death in a confrontation with protesting mineworkers.