Miners treated like ‘rascals’ - claim

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iol news pic Lonmin strike violence REUTERS Protesting mineworkers at Lonmins platinum operation in Marikana, North West, claimed they were treated like rascals by the mine's management, the Farlam Commission heard. File photo by Reuters

Rustenberg - Protesting mineworkers at Lonmin’s platinum operation in Marikana, North West, claimed they were treated like “rascals” by the mine's management, the Farlam Commission heard on Friday.

Video footage captured by members of the SA Police Service on August 16, hours before 34 people were shot, showed protest leaders addressing miners and expressing dissatisfaction with the way in which they were striking.

Lieutenant-Colonel Duncan Scott said the police were on the scene with Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) president Joseph Mathunjwa.

The police wanted Mathunjwa to convince the thousands of protesters to surrender their weapons.

On August 15, the protesters chased away National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) leaders, opting to instead negotiate with the newly established Amcu.

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

In the footage, most of the protesting workers told Mathunjwa that they would rather die, but would not leave the place they occupied at the koppie.

“Every mineworker is a soldier, prepared to die at any time. They (management) are treating us like rascals, we want them to come and meet us here,” said a protester.

“They are bringing us documents. We are not educated. We are prepared to die on this mountain,” another said through a megaphone.

One protest leader said: “Those policemen brought here from different place(s), we will finish them here. They will not be able to get back into the hippo (Nyala). They (police) should bring us that umlungu (“white person”, referring to mine bosses).

The video showed thousands of protesters sitting down, singing and raising weapons including pangas, knobkerries and spears. Most of the men were clad in blankets.

On Thursday, Scott outlined the police deployment plan of August 16 for the commission, which is chaired by retired judge Ian Farlam.

He told the commission that the police’s plan for that day included sending 630 police officers to the troubled region.

Scott gave details of the massive number of weapons and resources used in the roll-out of the police's second stage of a six-point intervention plan.

Later on August 16, 34 miners were killed when police opened fire on them.

Ten people, including two policemen and two security guards, had been killed in strike-related violence the preceding week.

Another policeman, Lieutenant-Colonel Victor Visser, narrated the events which took place from August 13 to 15.

Visser gave an account of the violence and murder committed, allegedly by protesters.

He showed the commission photos of the bodies two police officers, and other mineworkers, including a supervisor, who were hacked to death, allegedly by the protesters. - Sapa



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