Commission chairman Ian Farlam. File picture: Oupa Mokoena

Pretoria - A sangoma hired by striking Marikana miners in August 2012 burnt two live sheep in a night ritual, the Farlam Commission of Inquiry heard on Friday.

Police witness, identified only as Mr X, told the commission that on the night of August 11, 2012, the black and white sheep were tied in sheets and placed on two fires.

“The sheep were fetched from the shacks nearby. The sangoma placed them on the fire, they were alive. A black liquid flowed out and it was said this fluid would be used for rituals,” said Mr X.

“We were then taken to the river for a cleansing. We undressed and the sangoma was in front of us. We went into the water naked. The sangoma poured some muti into the river and put some into our mouths.”

There were about 200 mineworkers in the group and they were taken through the rituals in batches.

A mixture was made of the fat and blood which dripped from the burning sheep, and this was dispensed to the strikers at the koppie (hill) at Marikana.

“It was said 'men will be made men'. We were told that incisions would be made on our bodies. Secrets of the mountain had to end there. We were given rules to follow,” he said.

“We were told to abstain from sex for seven days, not to go where there is water, not to eat pork, sheep, and fish. We were also told not to have golden teeth, necklaces, watches, and coins.”

Mr X was led in submitting his evidence by Tebogo Mathibedi SC, for the police.

Mathibedi showed several pictures taken at Marikana in August 2012 and Mr X was able to identify himself among other protesters.

Mr X testified via video link from an undisclosed location on Friday. He claims to be one of the striking Marikana miners who underwent traditional rituals, swallowing the ashes of the sheep.

Mr X said the miners were under strict instructions not to shoot before police opened fire.

“Every one of us had his own blade, he cut us above the eyes, in the head, all the joints, below and above the nipples, on the sides of the hips, on the toes and ankles,” he said.

The hearing took an early break on Friday morning as Mr X was said to be “feeling unwell”.

The commission, chaired by retired judge Ian Farlam, is investigating the deaths of 44 people during strike-related violence at Lonmin's platinum mining operations at Marikana, near Rustenburg in the North West.

Thirty-four people, mostly striking mineworkers, were shot dead in a clash with police, over 70 were wounded, and another 250 arrested on August 16, 2012. Police were apparently trying to disarm and disperse them.

In the preceding week, 10 people, including two policemen and two security guards, were killed.

The inquiry continues. - Sapa