Rustenburg - Police attitudes towards striking miners at Lonmin's Marikana mine hardened in the run-up to a shooting that left 34 workers dead, the Farlam commission heard on Friday.
“That's correct,” National Union of Mineworkers health and safety national secretary Erick Gcilitshana testified at the commission's hearings in Rustenburg, North West.
Dali Mpofu, for those arrested and injured during the strike, put the question to him during cross-examination.
Gcilitshana earlier testified that he sat in on daily security briefings at the mine before the shooting on August 16 last year.
Mpofu asked if police attitudes hardened after two police officers were killed during the violent strike on August 13.
“I can't be specific. There was more talk of not being able to tolerate violence.”
He said it became clear, following a meeting with police commissioner William Mpembe on August 15, that the miners would be disarmed if unions were unable to persuade them to do so.
Mpofu said union rivalry at Lonmin was secondary to his case. The way the police and Lonmin management handled issues were his focus.
“We will argue that there was a concerted campaign on [Lonmin's] part to label the people at the mountain as criminals,” he said.
The commission is probing the deaths of 44 people during an unprotected strike at the North West mine last year.
Thirty-four striking mineworkers were shot dead and 78 were wounded when police opened fire while trying to disperse a group gathered on a hill near the mine on August 16.
In the preceding week, 10 people, including two police officers and two security guards, were hacked to death.
The hearing continues.