File image - A police officer fires shots to disperse miners at Lonmin's Marikana.

Rustenburg - Protesting mineworkers were shot while trying to escape to a nearby informal settlement, a survivor of the August 16 shootingsat Marikana told the Farlam Commission on Wednesday.

Mzoxolo Magidiwana, 24, said he joined a group of protesters who “dashed in the direction of Nkaneng” informal settlement when they had observed that police officers were surrounding them.

He denied several statements submitted to the commission, fingering him as the man who was seen wielding a stolen Z88 pistol belonging to the SA Police Service (SAPS).

“When we got closer to one of the Nyalas (an armoured police vehicle), it started moving, dragging barbed wire. The Nyala outpaced us and we were not able to access the road to Nkaneng,” he said.

Magidiwana said at that stage, police started shooting in the direction of the fleeing group.

He said his group made a U-turn and headed towards another gap, in another attempt to flee to Nkaneng.

“As soon as we emerged on the other side of the kraal, we were met with rapid gunfire. I was hit on my left leg. I stumbled and fell behind the others who had been shot, including Noki 1/8a leader of the protesters who was fatally shot 3/8,” said Magidiwana, who is on crutches.

He said he was later shot and repeatedly beaten. He said police officers approached him asking him where he had put the firearm.

The police have alleged that Magidiwana was shot in an attempt to disarm him on August 16. He was allegedly found with a Z88

pistol bearing the SAPS emblem.

The police said he was charged with illegal possession of a firearm and ammunition. He was arrested, but could not be detained because of the severity of his wounds.

Magidiwana was hospitalised at various institutions, under police guard.

He was charged as accused number 273 of the protesting mineworkers.

Evidence of another policeman, presented to the commission, was that on August 16, Magidiwana conceded being in possession of the police firearm.

Another police officer submitted that he had seen Magidiwana shooting at a Nyala.

The 24-year-old dismissed the allegations as “nonsense”.

Advocate Dali Mpofu, who represents the mineworkers arrested on August 16, played a sequence of videos captured on August 16. The videos show Magidiwana wielding a stick and wrapping a red blanket.

He was often in front of the protesters.

Another video shows several police officers surrounding a group of fallen mineworkers. The police have their firearms drawn and dead protesters are lying with their faces down. Some police officers are dragging the corpses.

Magidiwana said even as he testified at the commission on Wednesday, he was in pain and that he often visited hospitals.

“I am in severe pain from the wounds on my legs, abdomen, elbow and testicles. I have been advised that there is a strong possibility that I may never be able to father children,” Magidiwana said in an affidavit presented to the commission.

The commission is holding hearings in Rustenburg, North West, as part of its inquiry into the deaths of 44 people during an unprotected strike in Marikana last year.

On August 16, 34 striking mineworkers were shot dead and 78 were injured when the police opened fire while trying to disperse a group which had gathered on a hill near the mine.

Ten people, including two police officers and two security guards, were killed near the mine in the preceding week. - Sapa