26 June 2014

South Africa: Marikana Commission - Mr X & Mr White

Photo: SAPA stringer
Striking miners (file photo).

With just over a month to go in the Marikana Commission of Inquiry, two important testimonies have continued this week looking at very different causes of the violence. The mysterious Mr X pains a picture of violent mineworkers who likely forced police to fire as a last resort to save their lives. Mr White, however, looks at how the cops got into the situation in the first place and even then, was firing live ammunition at the mineworkers really the last resort? By GREG NICOLSON.

The police's line at the Commission has been fairly consistent. There's been some division that suggests they've tried to protect senior officers or use scapegoats, but their key argument is that individual officers felt their lives were under threat and they used live ammunition on the striking mineworkers when their disperse and disarm plans went awry.

To back this up, they've brought in Mr X. For months, we wondered what impact his testimony would have on the inquiry into the 44 people killed in Marikana in the week to 16 August 2012. Even the name "Mr X", a mineworker who participated in the violence but cannot be identified for fear of reprisals, evokes mystery. Halfway...

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