Cops cannot be trusted - Seoka

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IOL sep 17 lonmin vs police REUTERS (File photo) A protester sings as police officers stand guard to prevent marchers from proceeding in Rustenburg.

North West - South African police cannot be trusted, Pretoria's Anglican bishop Johannes Seoka told the Farlam Commission on Wednesday.

“If this is the evidence of police, I can tell you, having been a priest for 40 years, police in this country can never be trusted,” he said.

The families of the 34 miners killed in a police shooting near Lonmin's platinum mine in Marikana on August 16 vocalised their agreement.

Seoka had been asked to match his version of a visit to the mine on August 16 with the timeline of events presented by the police.

Schalk Burger, for Lonmin, asked Seoka how much he knew of the events and circumstances surrounding the strike before he visited the area.

Showing photographic evidence, Burger asked whether Seoka knew about the 10 people killed in strike-related violence the week before the shooting, and whether he was familiar with the “brutal” nature of the killings.

Seoka had earlier criticised Lonmin management for failing to agree to meet with protesters under his mediation hours before the shooting.

“Why do you think mine management were not willing to go to the koppie (hill)?” Burger asked.

Seoka earlier indicated that Lonmin's human capital vice president Barnard Mokwena told him management would not meet workers until they had disarmed, elected a delegation of representatives and agreed to disperse.

Burger said he would argue that it was reasonable of management not to want to engage workers on the hill.

“It is evident that, by that time, the koppie had been secured by the SA Police Service for some time. I don't understand why you blame Lonmin (for not breaching the police cordons to visit the hill).”

Earlier, Seoka said the miners had not expected that rituals performed prior to the shooting would protect them from police bullets.

“ (Claims about) the use of muti to protect workers against bullets... that's nonsense,” he said.

“You are making black people (out) to be stupid. They are not stupid.”

In a police presentation on Wednesday morning, Lt-Col Duncan Scott showed video footage of, what he termed “perceived rituals” performed by the protesters.

Seoka also described being haunted by a telephone call he received from a protester during the August 16 shooting.

“The phone rang and a voice on the other side, in Xhosa, said:

'Bishop, where are you? We are being killed',” Seoka said.

He said he could hear gunshots and screams before the call was cut off.

“(The call) was sufficient to keep me awake for several nights.”

The hearings continue on Thursday. - Sapa



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