“I cannot continue with the commission, in the absence of other people. I have no option but to terminate the proceedings now,” said the commission’s chairman, retired judge Ian Farlam.
“I am very reluctant to do what I am doing. Whether there will be another inspection in loco will be discussed with the legal representatives of the parties, evidence leaders and the commissioners.”
He was addressing a crowd consisting of several lawyers, Lonmin mineworkers, widows of slain miners, journalists and police officers.
Farlam’s ruling followed an altercation in which the miners shouted obscenities at a woman wearing a red National Union of Mineworkers T-shirt when she joined the inspection in Marikana, North West.
“Voetsek [bugger off]. Fuck you,” the miners shouted at the woman, who took cover among police officers.
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 mineworkers were relentless in their attacks and the woman and NUM lawyers left.
Farlam said he had also been informed that a police witness, scheduled to point out some spots, also felt intimidated after the incident involving the NUM member.
“It will be remembered that when it was drawn to my attention that the NUM representative was being told to leave, I spoke out very strongly about it.
“Despite what I said, the intimidation continued. Thank you very much, the proceedings are terminated,” said Farlam.
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 during a strike at Lonmin Platinum. 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.
Before the termination of the inspection in loco, the commission had visited several places near the Marikana koppies. Commissioners were also shown how a police water cannon worked, with the cannon spraying gushes of water onto an open field.