South Africa 10.11.2014 04:45 pm

Lonmin was unequipped to deal with Marikana strike

FILE PICTURE: Retired judge Ian Farlam and advocate Bantubonke Regent Tokota SC at the Marikana Commission of Inquiry. The commission is investigating what led to the deaths of 46 people during an illegal wage strike by Lonmin mine workers. (Photo by Gallo Images / Foto24 / Felix Dlangamandla)

FILE PICTURE: Retired judge Ian Farlam and advocate Bantubonke Regent Tokota SC at the Marikana Commission of Inquiry. The commission is investigating what led to the deaths of 46 people during an illegal wage strike by Lonmin mine workers. (Photo by Gallo Images / Foto24 / Felix Dlangamandla)

Lonmin’s security staff were not equipped to deal with the August 2012 unprotected strike at its Marikana mine in North West, the Farlam Commission of Inquiry heard on Monday.

“They were not equipped to deal with an outbreak of violence to that extent,” Azar Bam, for Lonmin, told the commission during his final arguments.

Lonmin had been criticised for being inadequately equipped to deal with the events that unfolded and to deal with injuries to people between August 9 and 13.

Bam said Lonmin demilitarised its operations in 2005 and moved to dealing with crime on a lower level.

“Was Lonmin equipped to deal with events as they unfolded? The answer is obviously not,” he said.

He argued that Lonmin had only 60 security guards at the time and ought not to have been expected to deal with events that were so extensive and covered such a wide area.

He said had the security guards been equipped with armoured vehicles and different clothing, it would not have made a difference to the violent intent of the strikers.

Bam acknowledged that Lonmin security had shot at striking miners on August 10 because there had been a history of intimidation during strikes.

He also admitted that the deletion of the shooting incidents from the logbook by then security manager Graeme Sinclair was unjustified.

“He has admitted to deleting several shooting incidences involving his staff. You simply cannot condone him for doing that.”

Bam argued, however, that the commission could not make any inference on an excessive use of force by Lonmin.

“There’s no evidence to support that,” he said.

Bam defended Lonmin’s characterisation of the August 2012 strike as a “criminal act”.

“The manner in which certain people had conducted themselves… you cannot characterise that conduct and its outcome in any other way. At the very least it’s a fair characterisation.”

Bam said the strike was characterised as criminal because of the incidents in which two Lonmin security guards Hassan Fundi and Frans Mabelane had been brutally killed by strikers.

Two mineworkers Eric Mabebe and Julius Langa had also been killed by their colleagues.

He described these killings as “gruesome”.

Sapa

 

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