3 July 2014

South Africa: We Were Not Allowed to Bath - 'Mr X'

Photo: SAPA stringer
Striking miners (file photo).

Pretoria — Striking Marikana mineworkers were instructed not to bath for seven days after undergoing muti rituals, the Farlam Commission of Inquiry heard on Thursday.

"From the 11th until the 16th of August [2012], after having used the muti, we were told not to bath. We were told to go for seven days without bathing," police witness, identified only as "Mr X", replied to cross-examination by evidence leader Geoff Budlender.

"Even now I am not changing the jacket I have been wearing ever since I started testifying. I do not bath, I only wipe certain parts."

Mr X, may not be named to protect his identity. He is testifying at the commission in Pretoria via video link from an undisclosed location.

He claims he was part of a group of striking Lonmin mineworkers at Marikana, near Rustenburg in the North West, who underwent traditional rituals, and also participated in the killing of Lonmin security guards Hassan Fundi and Frans Mabelani on August 12, 2012.

He has detailed in an affidavit how flesh was cut from Fundi's face, how sangomas cut this into smaller pieces, mixed it with blood, and burnt it to ashes.

"We were instructed by the inyangas [traditional healers] to stand in a line and the ashes were put in our mouth using a spoon which we licked and swallowed," Mr X wrote in his affidavit.

Mr X also narrates in the affidavit how he and other protesters attacked and killed two police officers on August 13, 2012. He said they robbed the officers of their cellphones and service firearms.

Budlender argued that Mr X was not the person he claimed to be in photographs taken at Marikana.

The photographs were viewed on large screens at the commission's public hearings in Pretoria.

"I am not an expert in faces but that face [in the photograph] is very different from your face," said Budlender.

Mr X maintained it was he in the photograph.

Budlender said Mr X was neither in the photograph nor was he at the koppie (hill), where strikers gathered for meetings at Marikana, on August 13, 2012 as he had claimed.

"I don't think that is you in that photograph and I don't think you were there [at the koppie] on the 13th of August 2012. In February last year, you did not know what happened on the 13th," said Budlender.

Mr X drafted his statement in February 2013.

Due to the discrepancies, Mr X was asked to smile, to show his teeth to the commission.

He said he was a rock drill operator (RDO) at Lonmin and participated in the strike.

"I am an RDO. Go and ask Lonmin who was striking on that day for R12,500. Go and check what my position is at Lonmin," said Mr X.

Commission chairman retired judge Ian Farlam, said many RDOs were striking in August 2012.

"Evidence indicates that there were many RDOs that were on strike. On the 13th, only about 200 strikers were at the railway line. The fact that you were an RDO and the fact that you were on strike, that doesn't mean you were at the railway line," said Farlam.

The commission is investigating the deaths of 44 people during strike-related violence at Lonmin's platinum mining operations at Marikana.

Thirty-four people, mostly striking mineworkers, were shot dead in a clash with police, over 70 were wounded, and another 250 arrested on August 16, 2012. Police were apparently trying to disarm and disperse them.

In the preceding week, 10 people, including the two policemen and two security guards, were killed.

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