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Miner recalls Marikana shooting

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REUTERS

A police officer fires shots to disperse miners at Lonmin's Marikana mine on September 15. File photo

Rustenburg - A miner from Lonmin platinum's Karee mine told the Farlam commission of inquiry on Thursday about being shot, assaulted and left to die on August 11 last year.

“I felt a cold substance on my back as we were running. It drew my attention that I was shot,” Vusimuzi Mandla Mabuyakhulu said, speaking through an interpreter.

“No one was prepared to help another man. It was difficult because we were all running away... NUM members were following from behind and found me lying on the road.”

When the men, dressed in National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) attire, questioned him about where he worked, Mabuyakhulu said he lied to save his life.

He told the commission that one of the men said he was lying and that he was a member of the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union.

“Then one man appeared from the side and said 'let's finish him up'.”

Mabuyakhulu said a man on his left had a spear. He struck him over the back with the handle until it broke.

“In front of me, a man with white overalls and a NUM T-shirt had a butcher's knife in his hand,” Mabuyakhulu recalled.

“I felt a blow on the back of my head and lost consciousness. After they left me, I came to and tried to crawl away...”

The commission heard Mabuyakhulu was unable to say on which day he regained consciousness. He also did not know at which hospital he was treated.

Prior to the shooting and the assault, the rock drill operator told the commission that before August 10, the rock drillers decided that no union should be present when they went to the mine's management to discuss a wage increase.

He said one of the reasons they decided this was because “it had become clear that NUM indicated that it would not be able to discuss wages for rock drill operators”.

On August 10, they met at the Wonderkop stadium and made a decision that their representatives should meet with the employer. He said the security guards at the offices were armed. Five representatives went to speak to management.

“The employer told them the NUM said the employer shouldn't talk to striking workers,” he said.

The workers agreed that they would go to the NUM's offices for clarity on August 11. On the morning of August 11, they all gathered at the Wonderkop stadium where they received various reports that NUM members had shot some people, and that miners were forced at gunpoint to return to work.

He said while they were walking they came across a group of singing NUM members. He heard two gunshots and they started running, which is when he was shot.

The commission heard that the police took his statement on August 17, and that there were language barriers.

“There are certain things that are incorrect in the statement,” Mabuyakhulu said in evidence led by Dali Mpofu, representing the miners injured and arrested.

He indicated he still had numbness on his scalp.

The commission is probing the deaths of 44 people during an unprotected strike at Lonmin's Marikana mine.

On August 16, 34 striking mineworkers were shot dead and 78 injured when police opened fire while trying to disperse a group that had gathered on a hill near the mine.

Ten people, including two police officers and two security guards, were killed near the mine in the preceding week.

The commission continues, with Mpofu leading Mabuyakhulu's evidence. - Sapa


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