Families take break from Marikana inquiry

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iol news pic Ian Farlam

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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 - Families of the Lonmin mineworkers shot in Marikana, North West, last year will re-join the public hearings in January, the Farlam Commission said on Wednesday.

Commission chairman, retired judge Ian Farlam, said the families would be back at the public hearings in Pretoria around January 22.

“We wish you a safe journey home. We hope you will have a blessed Christmas and a happy New Year, despite all the problems that you have had to deal with,” he told them.

“We will start the commission earlier, but you will be informed while you are at home or when you return here. Go well, we will see you next year.”

Last month, Farlam announced that the commission would take “a working recess” from December 5 until January 6.

“There is a lot of work to be done in the interim. I hope the counsel involved will start to prepare preliminary heads of arguments on the issues covered by the numerous witnesses that we have heard since November last year,” he said.

The commission is investigating the circumstances surrounding the deaths of 44 people at Marikana, near Rustenburg in North West, in August last year.

Police shot dead 34 people, almost all of them striking mineworkers, on August 16, 2012, while trying to disperse and disarm them.

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

President Jacob Zuma appointed the commission a short while later.

On Wednesday, Dumisa Ntsebeza SC, for the families of the deceased mineworkers, cross-examined Brigadier Adriaan Calitz about his evidence that the strikers might have shot each other.

“Evidence will be led from police officers who saw the people 1/8protesters 3/8 with rifles there,” Calitz said.

“We also know from the media that there was a rifle wrapped in a blanket.”

Calitz said the police did not collect used bullet cartridges at Marikana.

He said cartridges would be ejected only if a shooter reloaded. Other firearms did not drop their cartridges after firing shots.

Ntsebeza said six protesters were fatally shot with shotguns at scene one and two, and said this meant the shooters reloaded their weapons at the scene.

“To suggest that all six were killed by one bullet from a shotgun; that would take some imagination,” he said.

Calitz said there was “a big difference between what was fired at Marikana and the cartridges that were found”.

He agreed with Ntsebeza that no used shotgun cartridges were found.

Earlier, Ntsebeza questioned Calitz about the methods police use to quell violent wage strikes.

When he read out details of post mortems, relatives of the deceased were warned about their graphic content.

Many victims were wounded in the upper body.

Calitz did not dispute this. He said the forensic reports also indicated that some bodies had fresh marks made by a traditional healer.

Ntsebeza queried police evidence that the strikers were shot in self defence.

The public hearings continue on Thursday.

Sapa


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