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Jovial Rantao is deeply disturbed that Mr X’s murder confession is taking place before a commission of inquiry and not a court of law.
Johannesburg - South Africa this week heard a sensational and chilling confession to murder most brutal. At the Farlam Commission of Inquiry into the circumstances that led to the death of 44 people, separately at the hands of striking mine workers and the police, a mineworker has spilled the beans.
Mr X, as he is known to the South African public, has come clean about how he, armed with a panga, took part in the killing of a fellow worker whose cardinal sin was to ignore the industrial action that was under way at Lonmin’s platinum mine and report for work.
The self-confessed murderer owned up to his part in the brutal killing of fellow mine worker Julius Langa, from the safety of the protection provided by the commission.
He cannot be identified as according to the the ruling of the commission.
Mr X said at the crack of dawn on August 13, 2012, the armed striking workers confronted Langa near a railway line in Marikana. He was on his way to work.
The group – wielding pangas, firearms and spears – had asked Langa why he could go to work while there was a strike.
They then proceeded to attack him, killing him in the most painful and brutal of ways.
“We stabbed the man. I also took part in it. I used my panga to strike him,” he confessed.
Stabbed 18 times, Langa lost his life for daring to exercise his right to report for work.
Mr X’s confession suggested, quite strongly, that the murder was premeditated.
He said they had held a meeting at which it was decided that people reporting for work during the strike should be killed “to send a message that there is a strike”.
The chilling words used to describe the act of murder – taking another human being’s life – are not the only disturbing aspect of this development.
What is deeply disturbing for me is that this confession is taking place before a commission of inquiry and not a court of law.
Anyone who breaks the laws of this country and commits a capital crime such as murder, should, the circumstances notwithstanding, be hauled before our courts and made to answer.
Mr X not only conceded his role in murder, but gave full details of how he attacked a police officer and hit him in the leg with his panga.
He was also a witness to armed robbery. He saw the strikers take firearms and radios from the police officers under attack.
There was also intention by the strikers to move into an informal settlement and kill people.
I have tried very hard to understand the reasons President Jacob Zuma established the commission, but I cannot come to a conclusion on the wrongness of that decision.
And the fact that we now have a confession to murder, with no clear indication of what will happen to Mr X, is proof enough for me that we should have had at least 44 murder cases in our courts.
The stories that have so far been told to the commission should be testimony before the courts which would then be expected to pass judgment and sentence.
No disrespect to the distinguished judge, but what can the Farlam Commission do? At best, it can recommend action, based on conclusions made on the evidence that was presented before it.
And if the recommendation is, as I suspect, that certain individuals such as Mr X should be charged with murder, the entire process has to start from scratch, this time through the criminal justice system. A further couple of million will be spent and justice for the family of those who perished at Wonderkop on August 16, 2012 will, again, be delayed.
Mr X should be charged and a high court in this country must sit in adjudication.
It is also my stated view that the police officers responsible for the death of 34 mine workers and injury of 70 others should similarly be in court. This should include the commander, national police commissioner Riah Phiyega, to answer to charges of murder and grievous bodily harm.
* Jovial Rantao is editor of the Sunday Independent.