2 September 2014

South Africa: Black Lonmin Employee Treated Last - Lawyer

Photo: The Daily Vox
Miners gather to commemorate the second anniversary of the Marikana shooting (file photo).

Pretoria — A black Lonmin employee was the last to receive medical attention despite being the worst-injured during violence in Marikana, the Farlam
Commission of Inquiry heard on Monday.

"Is there any policy of preference at Lonmin? Mabebe was the only black (injured) staffer, the other two were white," Thekiso Ramphele, for Eric Mabebe and slain security guard Frans Mabelani, said at the commission's
hearings in Pretoria.

He was cross-examining Lonmin manager for mining security, Henry Mntunaye Blou.

Post mortem records show Mabebe, a mine supervisor, was stabbed multiple times and his skull fractured while on his way to work on August 12, 2012.

"Mabebe was the last one to be treated. We would like to know whether it is the policy of Lonmin that he should be treated last."

Blou said the conduct of paramedics was not his responsibility.

"I have not seen a policy that prefers that people be treated on the basis of race at Lonmin," said Blou.

Later that day Lonmin security guards Mabelani and Hassan Fundi were killed during a confrontation with the strikers. In that week, eight other people -- two policemen and mineworkers -- were killed.

The commission, chaired by retired judge Ian Farlam, is investigating the deaths of 44 people during strike-related unrest at Lonmin's platinum mine in Marikana, North West, in August 2012.

Thirty-four people, mostly striking mineworkers, were shot dead in a clash with police on August 16.

Over 70 people were wounded and over 200 were arrested. Police were apparently trying to disperse them.

Ramphele said Lonmin did not have a plan to protect non-striking workers and should take responsibility and apologise to the families.

"I don't take the issue of (the guards') training in crowd management too seriously. Fundi and Mabelani were trained in about 19 courses in three months. One of the courses was crowd management," he said.

"I am sure you know that escaping from a crowd of 3000 protesters is difficult. It was serious recklessness to permit Mabelani and Fundi to
go and approach a crowd of 3000."

Blou said he was not aware of the number of courses his charges had attended. He said the two guards were not alone, but accompanied by
their colleagues.

"They were allowed to withdraw from the situation. It was well within their rights to withdraw completely when they have assessed the mood of
the strikers," he said.

Ramphele said Lonmin knew the strikers' mood because other people had already been attacked.

"At least what I expect of Lonmin is that they accept that they did not have a plan to protect non-striking workers and the security. They owe it to the families to say 'we were wrong'," Ramphele said.

Blou agreed there was no way of protecting the employees.

He will still be on the stand when the commission resumes on Tuesday.

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