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Witness breaks down at Marikana hearing

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Sapa

Ian Farlam is overseeing the Farlam Commission of Inquiry into events surrounding the shooting of 34 Lonmin mineworkers in Marikana.

FLA

MARIKANA-INQUIRY by Jonisayi Maromo

RUSTENBURG Feb 28 Sapa

WITNESS CRIES AT MARIKANA HEARINGS

Graphic videos of last year's Marikana shooting caused a witness to break down at the Farlam Commission's public hearings in Rustenburg on Thursday.

Lawyers rushed towards Mzoxolo Magidiwana and comforted. The three-member commission's chairman, retired judge Ian Farlam, ordered a break.

Farlam said the break would help Magidiwana, 24, to compose himself.

The videos captured on August 16 were played on large television screens in the Rustenburg Civic Centre.

Before the videos were played, relatives of the miners who died in the shooting that day were asked to leave the auditorium.

The footage had the potential to upset some viewers, warned Dali Mpofu, who acts for miners arrested on August 16.

Several women walked out.

The videos show several, bleeding bodies of shot protesters scattered on the ground near a hill. Some have been shot in the head.

Magidiwana is seen in the video.

He is shown leading a group of protesters, who wield sticks and knobkerries while marching, and is shown lying among the bodies.

After the adjournment, Magidiwana was cross-examined by Vuyani Ngalwana, for the police.

Ngalwana took Magidiwana to task over his role in the strike and how he had become involved.

"You have told this commission that this was a protest of the RDOs 1/8rock drill operators 3/8. You are not one of them," said Ngalwana.

Magidiwana replied: "It started as a protest of the RDOs, but became a strike of all the workers. You know that we were protesting to get R12,500 and I wanted it for myself."

Ngalwana asked: "Did you then tell your lawyers then that you were striking for R12,500?"

Magidiwana said: "Are you saying you, sitting there, you don’t know that the workers were striking for R12,500?"

Farlam told Magidiwana not to waste time, but to answer the questions directly. He advised Magidiwana that if he told the commission the truth there would be no repercussions.

"The things you say in this commission cannot be used against you in your subsequent trial. There is no prosecution which can flow from what you say here, except if you don’t tell us the truth," said Farlam.

"If the prosecuting authorities are satisfied that what you have said to the commission is untrue, you could be prosecuted. That arrangement was made to try to help the commission to ascertain the truth of what happened."

Magidiwana previously told the commission that he was repeatedly shot and beaten by the police on August 16. He said the police approached him, asking him where he had put the firearm.

The police have alleged that Magidiwana was shot in an attempt to disarm him. He was allegedly found with a Z88 pistol bearing the SA Police Service emblem.

The police said he was charged with illegal possession of a firearm and ammunition. He was arrested, but could not be detained because of the severity of his wounds.

Magidiwana was hospitalised at various institutions, under police guard.

He was charged as accused number 273 of the protesting mineworkers.

A policeman has testified that Magidiwana conceded being in possession of the police firearm.

Another police officer submitted that he saw Magidiwana shoot at a Nyala (police armoured vehicle).

The 24-year-old has dismissed the allegations as "nonsense".

The Farlam Commission is holding hearings in Rustenburg, North West, as part of its inquiry into the deaths of 44 people during an unprotected strike in Marikana last year.

On August 16, 34 striking mineworkers were shot dead and 78 were injured when the police opened fire, allegedly while trying to disperse a group which 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.

Sapa

/jm/hdw/dd/clh 02/28/13 14-22


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