27 February 2013

South Africa: Marikana Cops Are Lying - Survivor

A survivor of last year's Marikana tragedy had a grilling at the Commission of Inquiry today. Lonmin - rock drill operator, Si-phete Phasha, was ... ( Resource: A Survivor of Last Year's Marikana Tragedy Grilled at Commission

Rustenburg — A mineworker who survived the August 16 shooting at Marikana told the Farlam commission on Wednesday that police officers were lying to the commission.

Mzoxolo Magidiwana, 24, was presented with several statements made by different police officers, alleging that he was shot after being spotted firing at police officers assigned to quell the protests at the koppie.

After reading out the police's evidence, advocate Dali Mpofu, who represents the mineworkers arrested on August 16, asked Magidiwana to respond to the allegations.

“That is nonsense,” said Magidiwana.

He told the commission he had never held a firearm in his life and did not know how to use a gun.

Evidence by police alleges that Magidiwana was shot in order to disarm him on August 16. He was allegedly found with a Z88 pistol bearing with the emblem of the SA Police Service.

Police say he was charged with illegal possession of a firearm and ammunition. He was arrested, but could not be detained due to the severe injuries he had sustained.

Magidiwana was hospitalised at different institutions, under police guard.

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

In response, Magidiwana told the commission on Wednesday that these charges were troubling him.

“That matter troubles me because I do not even know how to use a firearm. They (police) have levelled false accusations against me. I was carrying a black knobkerrie during the protest,” said Magidiwana.

He said although he was not a rock drill operator, he joined the protest on August 16 to support his fellow miners.

Together with thousands of other protesters, Magidiwana said they decided to escape from the koppie near the mine, where they had been meeting, when they realised police officers were surrounding them with barbed wire.

"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 (a leader of the protesters who was fatally shot)," said Magidiwana, who is on crutches.

He said the gunfire then stopped, briefly.

"Shortly afterwards I could hear voices of policemen approaching the place where we had fallen. When they got to me, I was again shot several times from close range whilst I was on the ground," said Magidiwana.

"I sustained further shots in my abdomen. The last shot caught my testicles and caused me some severe injury. I pleaded with the police to rather kill me and told them my relatives' name[s], so they could help identify my body."

In response to his plea to be finished off, the police officers told him he was going to die anyway. He said the policemen used their cellphones to take photographs of the bodies lying around, while laughing. Others kicked the bodies.

"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 his sworn 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 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.

After a short adjournment, Mpofu said video evidence captured on August 16 would be screened.

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