Marikana on edge after another murder
Pretoria - Mineworkers in Marikana, North West, fear for their lives after a colleague was shot dead in the area, the Farlam Commission of Inquiry heard on Wednesday.
Bongani “Bhayi” Mehlonkomo was killed in Marikana on Tuesday evening.
The 38-year-old was walking home on Tuesday afternoon when occupants of a car opened fire and killed him, Colonel Sabata Mokgwabone said.
“The incident happened at around 4.30pm. He was near a playground when he was shot by occupants in a vehicle.”
Dali Mpofu SC, for the miners arrested and wounded during strike-related violence in Marikana in August 2012, told the commission his clients were petrified.
“There is growing concern among the people that I represent. Speculation in the community is that the assassination is connected to the mentioning of names by Mr X,” Mpofu told the inquiry in Pretoria.
“Their fear is that those who have been implicated falsely feel that their lives are under threat. They are not under protection and are vulnerable.”
Police witness “Mr X” may not be identified and is testifying via a remote video link from an undisclosed location. He is under witness protection.
Mpofu said Mr X had mentioned Bhayi repeatedly at the inquiry, implicating him in the August 2012 murders of police officers and Lonmin security guards.
Bhayi was a member of the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union.
Under cross-examination last week, Mr X was asked by Takalani Masevhe, for the family of slain Warrant Officer Tsietsi Monene, to name the person who shot the policeman at close range.
After much hesitation, Mr X said those responsible were a protester Tholakele, popularly known as “Bhele”, and Bongani, popularly known as “Bhayi”. He said he did not know their surnames.
“I want to apologise because these men said I should not mention their names. I communicate with the men of Marikana. They must tell the truth,” said Mr X.
Monene was one of two officers hacked and shot dead on August 13, 2012 after police clashed with protesting miners.
Last year, commission chairman, retired judge Ian Farlam, offered the commission's condolences following the murder of National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) branch chairman William Setelele. He was shot dead near the Marikana hill close to Lonmin's platinum mine.
Another NUM official, Daluvuyo Bongo, was killed in October 2012.
The NUM branch secretary was shot six times at his home at the Wonderkop hostel complex in Marikana on October 5. He was scheduled to testify at the commission's public hearings.
At the time of Bongo's death, the NUM said he was set to present key information to the commission.
The inquiry is investigating the deaths of 44 people during strike-related unrest at Lonmin's operations at Marikana, near Rustenburg, in August 2012.
Thirty-four people, mostly striking mineworkers, were shot dead by police apparently trying to disarm and disperse them on August 16, 2012. Seventy others were wounded and 250 arrested.
In the preceding week, 10 people including the two policemen and two security guards, were killed. - Sapa