Absurd to say miners had motive to kill fellow strikers, Mpofu says
IT IS absurd to suggest the mine workers involved in the Marikana strike had a motive to kill their fellow strikers, Adv Dali Mpofu told the Farlam commission of inquiry on Marikana on Friday.
Mr Mpofu represents the more than 70 mine workers injured after the police shot and killed 34 strikers during an industrial strike at Lonmin platinum mine in Marikana on August 16 last year. He also represents about 250 later arrested and charged, under the doctrine of common purpose, with the murder of the fellow strikers killed by the police.
After a public outcry, acting national director of public prosecutions Nomgcobo Jiba provisionally withdrew the charges. The charges have been temporarily suspended.
President Jacob Zuma set up the commission last year to look into the deadly mine strike, which led to the deaths of at least 44 people — including two police officers and two Lonmin mine security guards — as well as damage and destruction to Lonmin’s Marikana mine property.
In reply to Mr Mpofu’s suggestion, the chief negotiator for the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), Erick Gcilitshana, who is also the union’s national secretary of health and safety, agreed with Mr Mpofu in "general" terms, but cited the murder of NUM member and shop steward Isaiah Twala as an exception.
Mr Twala, according to the submission made by Mr Gcilitshana before the commission, was found brutally murdered near the koppie where the strikers had gathered and "a bleached skull of an animal had been placed on his torso".
The NUM had then gone on the record that it did not support the strike because it was unprotected and said workers should report for duty and channel their demands through the normal bargaining structures and processes.
However, Mr Gcilitshana later agreed with the commission chairman, retired judge Ian Farlam, that there was no basis for the view that any of the strikers would want to kill fellow strikers who were fighting for the same cause.
Mr Mpofu said that prior to the arrests there had been a concerted campaign on the part of Lonmin to create an impression that the strikers were criminals. Mr Gcilitshana agreed.
Counsel for Lonmin, Schalk Burger SC, told the commission on Thursday that there were incidents of violence and criminal activity during the Marikana strike. "The workers were aggressive and carrying dangerous weapons," Mr Burger said.
Dumisa Ntsebeza SC, counsel for the families of the deceased, was on Friday morning expected to file an application before the commission. However, Mr Farlam noted that the application was not urgent and would be submitted later. Details of the application were yet to be announced by the time the commission adjourned for lunch.
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