Strict cover for Marikana's Mr X

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iol news pic Judge Ian Farlam INLSA File image - Honourable Judge Ian Gordon Farlam during the public hearing of the Marikana Commission of Enquiry to investigate the Marikana tragedy at which 44 people were killed and scores injured. Picture: Dumisani Sibeko

Pretoria - Stringent process will have to be followed at the Marikana Commission of Inquiry when a key police witness, dubbed Mr X, testifies, retired judge Ian Farlam ruled on Tuesday.

He told the public hearings in Pretoria that the enigmatic witness would give evidence to the commission in camera, from a remote undisclosed location.

“I make the following rulings: that the members of the media may not publish the name of Mr X or any other information which may reveal his identity.

“All video recordings of the evidence of Mr X must be blurred out so as not to disclose his identity,” said Farlam.

He said members of the public may listen to an audio transmission of the commission's proceedings from an overflow room when Mr X testifies.

A member of the commission's evidence leaders' team would always be in the room where Mr X testified from.

“Only the commissioners (of the inquiry), the parties, the legal representatives, evidence leaders and accredited media representatives shall be present in the auditorium during the testimony of Mr X,” said Farlam.

He said two weeks prior to Mr X's testimony, the SA Police Service legal representatives at the commission should disclose his name to the evidence leaders and all lawyers of all other parties.

The police should also provide photographs of Mr X to the evidence leaders and all other parties.

“They should also indicate to the evidence leaders and the legal representatives of all parties all points at which they have been able to identify Mr X on video footage of the events during the period 13 to 16 August, 2012,” said Farlam.

Farlam's ruling followed an application by the police seeking the protection of Mr X, owing to safety reasons.

Last month, Sesi Baloyi, for the police, said the protected witness's safety would be in imminent danger if his identity was revealed or published.

“There is a real concern that his testimony before this commission may expose him and his family to harm. As things stand, Mr X is under witness protection.”

The man identified as Mr X was apparently part of the group of protesting Marikana miners who underwent a ritual which included two sangomas, the burning of live sheep and swallowing of their ashes on August 11, 2012.

In Mr X's sworn statement, seen by Sapa, he details how the miners attacked and killed Lonmin security guards Hassan Fundi and Frans Mabelani.

Hassan's body parts were removed and taken together with Mabelani's ashes for further muti rituals, according to Mr X.

He details how the sangomas cut Fundi's parts into smaller pieces, mixed them with blood and burnt them to ashes.

“We were instructed by the inyangas [traditional healers] to stand in a line and the ashes were put in our mouth using a spoon which we licked and swallowed,” Mr X wrote in his affidavit.

The police proposed that Mr X testify from a remote location.

The application was opposed by Dali Mpofu, SC, for the wounded and arrested miners, Dumisa Ntsebeza, SC, for the families of slain miners, and Anthony Gotz for the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu).

The public hearings will resume on April 22.

Sapa



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