analysisBy Sipho Hlongwane
On Wednesday, Dali Mpofu told the Marikana Commission of Inquiry that six men arrested by the police in the last weeks were brutally tortured while in custody. We also got an update on why Legal Aid is refusing to fund the legal fees for the wounded miners.
The Marikana Commission of Inquiry has heard that six men arrested in the past weeks have been savagely tortured by the police. Dali Mpofu, the advocate for the 78 miners wounded by the police on 16 August, said that the men were released last night and told him of their ordeal.
“What is sad is since last night I've been listening to the most gory details of their assault and torture. One person said he was beaten up until he soiled himself. Another lost the hearing in his right ear, and another had visible scarring,” Dali Mpofu said.
Four of the men - Zamikhaya Ndude, Sithembele Sohadi, Loyiso Mtsheketshe, Anele Xole – were arrested last week Tuesday on the way back to Majakaneng, from Rustenburg, and at the time Mpofu said that it appeared that they had been followed from the commission.
We spoke to Thumeka Magwanqa who was present during the arrest and she described it as being overly aggressive and designed to intimidate.
On that day, Mpofu said to the commission chairman Judge Ian Farlam that his job was made very difficult by the fact that not only did he need to consult with hundreds of clients for the case, but some of them who he intended to call as key witnesses were getting arrested by the police.
One of the men arrested is Xolani Nzuza, who was reportedly accused of murdering Daluvuyo Bongo, the local secretary of the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM). We understood that he was scheduled to appear in court on Thursday after an identification parade on Wednesday.
A case will be lodged with the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) and Farlam said that if the allegations were true, they could affect the police’s case.
Mpofu did not discuss this new information with the police advocate Ishmael Semenya, who was not pleased to learn of it at the commission.
“It is unfortunate that [Mpofu] raised the matter at the commission without speaking to my legal team first. The allegations are very serious... and they are just thrown like that,” he said. “The SAPS should have been warned about the allegation so it could investigate and present counter evidence.”
On the basis of the accounts that we have received of the arrests, it sounds like the police are on an intimidation spree to try and unsettle the people who may be called to give testimony against them. For example, some of the arrested men were due to appear in court last week Friday – at the last minute, charges against them were provisionally dropped and the men were taken to a police station to be charged again.
This is on top of a harsh clampdown being reported in all the wildcat strike areas where police are arresting people at night.
After the 272 miners arrested immediately after 16 August were released, they told us that the police had beat them. Most said that they didn’t know why they were being tortured as no information was requested of them, but some said that they were being asked questions about Julius Malema’s involvement in the strike before the massacre.