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Rustenburg - Leaders of the union Amcu declined police transport to address striking Marikana miners the day before they clashed with police, video evidence revealed on Tuesday.
The footage, captured by members of the SA Police Service on the evening of August 15, was shown to the Farlam commission of inquiry into the events in North West.
It showed an argument between an Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union delegation and police officers over how the unionists would reach the armed protesters.
Amcu president Joseph Mathunjwa insisted on walking towards the protesters with his team.
Police officers said they had been instructed to carry the unionists and have them address the workers from a Nyala.
“These are people and we are a union. We are not afraid of them, we have done nothing wrong,” Mathunjwa told the police officers.
Several police officers took turns, instructing the Amcu delegation that they would not be allowed to go near the protesters without the police escort.
After the squabble, the Amcu delegation was taken into a Nyala and Mathunjwa later addressed the crowd from the vehicle.
“After 18 years of our democracy, some of our people are still earning R4000. With such a salary you need to save for a year to be able to buy a loaf of bread,” he told the workers.
He started off by apologising to the workers for addressing them “behind the locks”.
“When I realised that workers are gathered at such and such a place, I said to myself, 'how can I afford to sleep?' I am pleading, my brothers, please listen and trust me,” he said.
“After 18 years of freedom, let us see if the problem that you are facing cannot be addressed.”
His address on August 15 took place a day before the strike degenerated into chaos on August 16. A total of 34 striking miners were shot dead in a confrontation with police.
Another 78 people were wounded in the shooting and scores were arrested.
The irate protesters had earlier chased away a delegation of the National Union of Mineworkers led by president Senzeni Zokwana.
The three-member judicial commission led by retired judge Ian Farlam is holding public hearings at the Rustenburg Civic Centre, North West, as part of its probe into the Marikana shooting.
On Tuesday, the evidence-leading team, led by advocate Mbuyiseli Madlanga, requested to screen video footage captured between August 9 and 16 before the commission.
Scenes captured on August 10 and 11 were significantly different from those of the previous day. On those two days, the protesters had brought their traditional weapons with them; some were dancing ecstatically and waving the weapons.
On August 12, the footage showed the protesters running off after setting fire to Lonmin mine vehicles, with security guards inside.
A member of the evidence-leading team showing the footage told the commission that after setting the two men and cars alight, the crowd of protesters ran off with a shotgun seized from one of the Lonmin guards.
There were violent encounters between the protesters and the police on August 13.
Footage of August 14 showed the discovery of a body, only identified as “Mr Twala”. The hacked man was a mine supervisor. An animal skull was placed on the chest of the lifeless man.
Video evidence of events captured on August 16 will be screened on Wednesday, when the commission resumes. - Sapa