Get IOL's cool new iPad app...
Rustenburg - The Farlam commission of inquiry into 44 deaths during a strike at Lonmin Platinum's mine in Marikana, North West, was adjourned on Wednesday after a water and power cut at the Rustenburg Civic Centre.
Commission chairman Ian Farlam said the proceedings would begin again at 9am on Thursday.
A miner wounded on August 16, Siphete Phatsha, said through an interpreter that he had not attacked anyone on August 16.
He had carried a panga and a sharpened iron rod that day, but had carried only a stick earlier in the week, he told the commission.
He was about to explain this when the auditorium went dark.
Earlier, Phatsha said he and other striking Lonmin miners had assembled at a hill near the mine, when they noticed a Nyala (a police armoured vehicle) trying to “close us in”.
“We left immediately. The idea was to proceed towards [Nkaneng informal settlement]. We found police had closed our way.”
Phatsha said the miners, who were being with teargas and by a water cannon, then ran towards a kraal.
Two or three Nyalas had outstripped them and blocked their way, but they ran behind the kraal. When they emerged, they were fired on with live ammunition, he said.
“I jumped over people who had fallen down and went through the kraal and out the other side.”
Phatsha said that, at this point, he felt pain in his foot and realised he had been shot.
“The injured toe was impeding my movements and getting caught by stones and plants on the ground,” he said in a statement.
He amputated the remains of his toe with a bush knife.
“I sat down, cut off that piece and I was able to run after that.”
He tied a piece of cloth around the stump as a makeshift tourniquet.
Phatsha said that at the small hill, he saw other protesters surrendering to the police.
“They were raising their hands and asking for forgiveness... They were being shot at.”
He joined a group which were being arrested. A policeman later told him and two others that they needed medical treatment, and they were taken to hospital.
Earlier, Phatsha described his job as a rock drill operator as dangerous, and said that in August, he earned around R5000, including a “sleep out” allowance.
The commission is probing the deaths of 44 people during an unprotected strike at Lonmin Platinum's mine in Marikana last year.
On August 16, 34 striking mineworkers were shot dead and 78 were injured when the police opened fire while trying to disperse a group which had gathered on a hill near the mine.
Ten people, including two police officers and two security guards, were killed near the mine in the preceding week.