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Pretoria - Lonmin miners live in fear because the “murder suspects” who shot dead their colleagues in 2012 had not been suspended, their lawyer said on Thursday.
Dali Mpofu SC, representing the wounded and arrested miners at the Farlam Commission of Inquiry, said he would recommend that 60
people should be charged with the murder of the protesters.
He was cross-examining senior police officer Brigadier Adriaan Calitz at the commission's public hearings in Pretoria.
“It is because of your failure to give warning to the protesters, you and the shooters, about 50 of them, should be charged with the murder of all 34 people. Other people will make up that list of 60,” he said.
“Regarding who is number one to five (on the list of 60), I am not able at this stage to give the names. You will be number six.... You should be charged with murder.”
Calitz said he did not agree.
Mpofu went on: “The mere fact that those people, including yourself, who should be, at the very least, murder suspects have not been suspended is partly responsible for the fear in my clients.
“Their fear is that those very same, whom they come face to face with today, are capable of killing again as they did last week.”
Mpofu was referring to the platinum mine workers’ strike which began in Rustenburg on Thursday. He also referred to the police action in Mothutlung, near Brits, which resulted in the deaths of four people during a protest about access to water.
Lawyers representing the police intervened after Mpofu said Calitz was “ridiculously refusing” to accept his proposition that he instructed officers to “engage” the protesters with live ammunition.
Ishmael Semenya SC, requested the commission to protect the witness.
Calitz said he would not change his earlier evidence.
“I did not do what is suggested by the advocate. I could not see what was happening behind me. At some of the stages (during the 2012 clash with the miners) I had gone forward,” he said.
Earlier on Thursday, Calitz said the protests which began in Rustenburg on Thursday were totally different from the August 2012
protests in Marikana that left 44 people dead.
Mpofu asked him whether the police would intervene to end the current strike at platinum mines.
He said there was general apprehension among his clients and a broad spectrum of South Africans about what would happen at the strike in view of the 2012 events.
Calitz said he believed there would be no action by the police to intervene, as this would amount to flouting the strikers' constitutional right to protest.
Mpofu responded: “A reasonable South African citizen would gain cold comfort from that assurance.
“Those same policemen who will be facing the people today (during the strike), last week killed four people who were not in possession of dangerous weapons.”
Calitz said he did not believe the same officers who intervened at Mothutlung would be deployed to Marikana.
“According to the information I have, the people (police) who were involved last week were taken for treatment,” he said.
“In this case (the current strike), this is a protected strike, totally different from what happened in Marikana. This one is just going to be monitored and videographed.”
The commission of inquiry, led by retired judge Ian Farlam, is probing the circumstances surrounding the deaths of 44 people during labour unrest at Lonmin's platinum mining operations at Marikana.
On August 16, 2012, 34 people, mostly striking miners, were shot dead and 78 people were wounded when the police fired at a group gathered at a hill near the mine. They were trying to disperse and disarm them.
In the preceding week, 10 people, including two policemen and two security guards, were killed in strike-related violence.
The commission resumes on Friday, when lawyers for the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union will cross-examine Calitz.