Former North West deputy police commissioner Major-General William Mpembe, Gideon van Zyl, Dingaan Madoda and Oupa Pule are on trial at the North West High Court for charges relating to the death of mineworkers Modisaotsile van Wyk Sagalala in Marikana on 16 August 2012. PHOTO: ANA

MOGWASE - Former North West deputy police commissioner Major-General William Mpembe was told that a mineworker died in a police truck, the North West High Court heard on Monday.

"My truck was the last to arrive at the detention centre. When I was reversing I heard a knock from the back of the truck and people shouting in isiXhosa that a person was dying," Constable Dimakatso Mafate told the court.

"I parked the truck and opened the door. I saw a man lying down dressed in a chequered jacket. I then closed the door and went to inform General Mpembe that a person was dying in the truck. He took my details including my force number saying he was going to make a report."

Mafate was testifying in the trial involving Mpembe, Gideon van Zyl, Dingaan Madoda and Oupa Pule. The State alleges they failed to disclosed that mineworker Modisaotsile van Wyk Sagalala died in police custody. The four are facing charges of contravening the Commission Act, contravening IPID Act and defeating the ends of justice.

The State charged that they concealed the circumstance of the death of Sagalala after the police opened fire on striking Lonmin mineworkers, killing 34 of them, in what is known as the Marikana massacre. 

At the time, the mineworkers had waged a violent wildcat strike demanding to be paid a minimum monthly salary of R12,500.

Testifying for the state, Mafate said arrested Lonmin mineworkers were transported to a detention centre at Lonmin premises on August 16 2012.

He said when he returned he found the man on a stretcher surrounded by paramedics, the truck was empty and he did not know what happened to the arrested people in his truck.

Advocate Jan Ellis for Mpembe told Mafate that he did not speak to Mpembe on August 16 2012.

"You never spoke to general Mpembe, accused one, at the dentention centre, as you have testified," he said.

Mafate replied by asking whether Ellis was present when he spoke to Mpembe. "I spoke to him, were you present?"

Judge Ronnie Hendricks intervened, explaining to Mafate that he should answer questions and not ask questions of Ellis.

African News Agency (ANA)