Rustenberg, North West - Mine bosses in South Africa did not value the life of black people and could afford to kill protesting workers and hire another lot, president of the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) Joseph Mathunjwa told protesting mineworkers in Marikana, North West.

A video captured by members of the SA Police Service (SAPS) on August 16, hours before the shooting which killed 34 protesters, was played at the hearings of the Farlam commission sitting at the Rustenburg Civic Centre on Friday.

“The employer wants to hide behind the fact that the protesters were violent and continue to oppress the black nation. The life of a black man is so cheap in South Africa,” he said.

In the clip, Mathunjwa lamented oppression by the mine bosses. He also complained that his members were being killed by police and the rival National Union of Mineworkers (NUM).

“They will kill us all here and hire others who they will pay salaries which do not mean anything in life. The employer will say your members were violent, that is why they were killed,” he said.

“We need a strategy from heaven and the ancestors, comrades. There is a time-bomb set for you and Amcu. Let us not give NUM the opportunity to say Amcu caused people to be killed on the mountain,” said Mathunjwa.

At the mines the workers were being oppressed by fellow black people “from universities”.

“They (employees) take some of us and give them senior position(s). This is called ‘rent a black’ in their terms,” he said.

Presenting the police’s outline of the events of August 16, leading up to the confrontation which left 34 dead, Lt-Col Duncan Scott told the commission police wanted Mathunjwa to convince the thousands of protesters to surrender their weapons.

Mathunjwa appealed to the thousands of protesters, sitting under the scorching Rustenburg sun and wielding weapons, to avoid bloodshed.

“Let us avoid a bloodshed, we want your problems to be resolved,” he said.

He knelt down at one stage as he addressed the crowd through a megaphone. At the beginning of his speech, Mathunjwa introduced himself to the protesters as “a servant of God”.

Earlier, the police video showed several protest leaders addressing miners and expressing dissatisfaction with the way in which their strike was being attended to. They claimed they were treated like “rascals” by the mine's management.

On August 15, the protesters gathered at the koppie had chased away NUM leaders, opting to instead negotiate with the newly-established Amcu.

Mathunjwa spoke to the protesters, and promised he would return to the hill where they had gathered to give them feedback about their wage demands at 9am on August 16. - Sapa