24 January 2013

South Africa: Marikana Shooting a Shock - Testimony

Photo: Werner Beukes/SAPA
Police on standby if violence erupts at Lonmin's troubled Marikana mine in the North West, Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Rustenburg — A union official recalled his shock at the Farlam commission of inquiry on Thursday upon hearing the news of the police shooting that left 34 workers dead.

"I got [the news of the shooting] from the radio. To me it was a shock and surprise," National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) health and safety national secretary Erick Gcilitshana told the commission in Rustenburg.

He was the first witness to be called by the NUM. He was the chief negotiator during the Lonmin mineworkers' strike at Marikana in August.

He is also a Lonmin employee.

Geoff Budlender, one of the evidence leaders, asked him what his response was to hearing the news.

"I don't recall very clearly. As I remember we did phone the company to verify."

He was asked if he took any action following the confirmation, to which he answered: "Not".

Gcilitshana would next be cross-examined by Lonmin lawyer Schalk Burger.

The commission is probing the deaths of 44 people during an unprotected strike at the mine last year.

Thirty-four striking mineworkers were shot dead and 78 wounded when police opened fire while trying to disperse a group gathered on a hill near the mine on August 16.

In the preceding week, 10 people, including two police officers and two security guards, were hacked to death.

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Police on standby if violence erupts at Lonmin's troubled Marikana mine in the North West, Tuesday, 14 August 2012

The Farlam Commission of Inquiry into the deaths of 34 miners at Marikana in August last year has heard from a union member, who is being questioned on his knowledge of muti ... Read more »