Death threats for Marikana witness

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iol news pic Ian Farlam INLSA Honourable Judge Ian Gordon Farlam during the public hearing of the Marikana Commission of Enquiry to investigate the Marikana tragedy. File picture: Dumisani Sibeko

Pretoria - A witnesses set to testify about the Marikana shootings has received death threats, the Farlam Commission of Inquiry heard on Thursday.

“It has come to our attention that one of the witnesses, who has filed a statement, has received anonymous death threats,” Vuyani Ngalwana, for the police, told the commission sitting in Centurion.

“(The) SA Police Service has no intention to call this person as a witness, as we know that people have been murdered. Police have been asked to investigate.”

The witness's statement was summarised before the commission on Friday. He received the death threats on Tuesday through e-mails and cellphone text messages, Ngalwana said.

Commission chairman, retired judge Ian Farlam, said the matter was “distressing”.

“We have already had a number of deaths in relation to people supposed to give evidence. As the commission we will not insist on the witness to give evidence.

“Anyone foolish enough to consider killing a person because he was about to testify can expect the full wrath of the law to be applied against them.”

Ngalwana would not reveal the witness's name.

Since the commission was established several individuals involved in the strike at Marikana in August had been murdered. In March, Alton Zikhuthele, 69, a sangoma, was killed at his home at Ludeke Holt village in Mbizana, Eastern Cape.

He had been expected to testify about his role in the rituals that made protesters believe they would be invisible in the face of gunfire.

Last month, a National Union of Mineworkers shop steward was shot dead and his colleague wounded in an attack at Lonmin's Wonderkop hostel.

Also in March, Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union regional chairman Mawethu Steven was shot dead.

The commission is probing the circumstances that led to the deaths of 44 people during the unrest in Marikana, North West, last year.

Police shot dead 34 striking miners near Lonmin's platinum mine in Marikana on August 16. Ten people, including two police officers and two security guards, were killed during the preceding week. - Sapa

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