Amcu ‘did not do enough,’ commission told

Rustenburg -

Amcu leaders did not do enough to warn police about the threat of violence and prevent bloodshed at Marikana, the Farlam Commission heard on Tuesday.

File image - A police officer fires shots to disperse miners at Lonmin's Marikana. Credit: REUTERS

Takalani Masevhe, for the family of Warrant Officer Tsietsi Monene, said Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union president Joseph Mathunjwa did not act responsibly after hearing the threats of violence made at the hill where striking workers had gathered.

Monene and his colleague, Warrant Officer Sello Lepaaku, were killed near Lonmin's platinum mine in Marikana, Rustenburg, on August 13, allegedly by striking workers.

Masevhe asked Mathunjwa about his visit to the hill on August 16, and striking mineworkers' reaction.

The commission has already seen video evidence of Mathunjwa’s trip.

It shows a mineworker standing near Mathunjwa taking a megaphone and addressing the crowd.

“If the police claim to have safety, they should go and apply that safety to the employer. We are not leaving this place unless we get what we want,” he tells the crowd.

“Let them (police officers) go immediately. Those police brought here are going to remain here. They will not be able to get back into that hippo (the armoured police Nyala vehicle). We will finish them here,” he said to laughter from his audience.

Masevhe asked Mathunjwa what he did after hearing the threats.

“I did not only address the crowd. I reprimanded them, but not specifically that speaker. We then left for the JOC (joint operations centre),” Mathunjwa replied.

Masevhe said Mathunjwa had met North West deputy police commissioner Maj-Gen William Mpembe, but had not alerted him to the threats.

“Why didn't you find it important to warn the police that the protesters are saying police officers will be finished at that koppie (hill)?” Masevhe asked.

Mathunjwa responded: “We had waited for some time for Gen Mpembe. As he came out of a room, he said to me: 'Mr Mathunjwa I have explained to you that I am no longer in charge of this operation'.”

He said Mpembe showed he was not willing to listen.

“All those things happened in a short space of time. He showed that he didn’t want to take anything from me. He then said let me call her (North West police chief Lt-Gen Zukiswa Mbombo). He went away and didn’t come back,” said Mathunjwa.

“There was protocol which had been laid down (for reporting) and it had to be followed.”

Masevhe then asked Mathunjwa why he had not raised the matter with other officers.

“There was an exchange of text messages between you and other senior police officers. Why did you not include this vital piece of information to the officials?”

Mathunjwa said it had not crossed his mind as he was supposed to report to the provincial commissioner.

Masevhe said: “Let me inform you, Mr Mathunjwa, that at the end of this commission we are going to argue that you did not act responsibly by not telling police officers that there was a threat looming at the koppie. You had heard the protesters.”

She said the people killed were breadwinners and fathers.

Mathunjwa said: “I will dispute that. Subsequently, there were no police officers killed on that day, after I had left. Only the workers were killed.”

The commission's chairman, retired judge Ian Farlam, adjourned the hearings until December 12.

The three-member commission is probing the deaths of 44 people in strike-related violence at Lonmin's platinum mine in Marikana, North West.

They include 34 people shot dead by the police, who opened fire while trying to disperse a group of strikers gathered on a hill near the mine on August 16.

In the preceding week, 10 people, among them the two policemen and two security guards, were hacked to death near the mine.

President Jacob Zuma announced the commission in August, saying it would complete its work within four months, and would have to submit its final report a month later. - Sapa