Amcu President Joseph Mathunjwa. File photo Paballo Thekiso.

Rustenburg -

Amcu president Joseph Mathunjwa endured tough questioning from lawyers for the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and Lonmin at the Farlam commission on Monday.

During cross-examination by Schalk Burger SC, for platinum miner Lonmin, Mathunjwa conceded that the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union had not independently verified two murders it had claimed were committed by rival NUM.

According to an Amcu press release, released before the August 16 shooting, which was read to the commission, two protesters died when NUM members opened fire on a crowd passing close to its offices on August 10.

Mathunjwa said his union had heard about the deaths from the protesters. The union issued the statement without independently verifying the claims, Mathunjwa conceded.

Karel Tip, for NUM, said there had been no evidence of the crime, meaning it never happened unlike Amcu had said. Again Mathunjwa conceded.

Tip questioned Mathunjwa on why he visited the koppie where striking miners had been meeting, and addressed rock drill operators.

Reading extracts from transcripts of Mathunjwa’s speeches to the workers, Tip said Mathunjwa did a lot “to portray Amcu in a positive light and NUM in a negative light. This was done to “market” Amcu, said Tip.

He asked Mathunjwa why he had not “explicitly” told armed, striking mineworkers to leave the koppie and return to work.

“You are talking about an environment which is not my constituency,” Mathunjwa replied.

“It 1/8the protest 3/8 was something which happened outside the labour structures. I wouldn't go there and say to the workers, 'stand up and go'.”

The commission started off on Monday morning by paying tribute to former chief justice Arthur Chaskalson. The three-member commission's chairman, retired judge Ian Farlam, asked everyone in the auditorium to stand and observe a moment's silence “in honour of the late chief justice”.

He said Chaskalson was the father of advocate Matthew Chaskalson SC, one of the lawyers on the evidence-leading team.

Police opened fire, killing 34 striking workers and wounding 78 while trying to disperse a group of miners gathered on a hill near Lonmin's mine in Marikana on August 16.

In the preceding week, 10 people, including two police officers and two security guards, were hacked to death near the mine.

The commission was established by President Jacob Zuma to probe the reasons behind the violence and the deaths of the 44 people.

In August, Zuma gave the commission four months to complete its work. It would have to submit its final report a month later. - Sapa