21 July 2014

South Africa: Mr X Feels Insulted

Pretoria — A police witness, known only as Mr X, hit back at lawyers casting aspersions on his mental state at the Farlam Commission of Inquiry in Pretoria on Monday.

Dali Mpofu, SC, for the injured and arrested Marikana miners, was cross examining the mineworker, who testified via video link from an undisclosed location.

"I am still listing the reasons why I am going to say your evidence should be discarded as a whole. I am putting this in the kindest possible way, you are in a bad mental and emotional state," said Mpofu.

Mr X responded: "You are insulting me, Mr Mpofu. I have said let us respect each other. You should say that in court."

"Can you talk to a mad person? I am asking you Mr Mpofu, can you talk to a mad person?"

Mpofu said he would not answer Mr X's question "out of respect."

The witness, who cannot be identified, is under police witness protection and has said he fears for his life.

Mr X claims he was part of a group of striking Lonmin mineworkers at Marikana, near Rustenburg, North West, who underwent traditional rituals, and 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 for the miners to lick. This was apparently to prepare them for a confrontation with police.

Mr X also claims he was among the protesters who shot and hacked two policemen to death on August 13, 2012.

Warrant Officers Tsietsi Monene and Sello Leepakuwere were killed during the confrontation at Lonmin's platinum mining operations at Marikana.

Last month, Mpofu brought an application to have Mr X undergo mental observation.

"The nature and purpose of this application is simply to seek a ruling that Mr X's competence and capability to give evidence as a witness in the commission be investigated, preferably by means of a medical inquiry into his mental or psychological state," said Mpofu at the time.

He said the rights of affected parties had to be protected.

"Mr X is a very important witness, and the issues he is pronouncing [on] are issues that are of a very serious nature. The allegations he makes in respect of certain people have far-reaching implications," Mpofu said.

On Monday, Mpofu asked Mr X whether he had suffered severe head injuries at Marikana.

Mr X responded: "There is nothing like that. You are not a doctor. You have never searched my head."

Mpofu asked Mr X to explain whether he had suffered dizziness while giving evidence at the inquiry.

Mr X responded: "Everybody suffered from a headache at some point. You have insulted me, Mr Mpofu".

The witness said Mpofu's statements hurt his feelings.

Earlier this month, the inquiry was adjourned after Mr X said he was mentally exhausted and requested a break.

The inquiry, led by retired judge Ian Farlam, is investigating the deaths of 44 people during strike-related violence at Lonmin's 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 the two security guards, were killed.

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