Bishop dismisses ‘stupid’ Marikana muti claims
SA Council of Churches chairperson Bishop Jo Seoka has told the Marikana Commission of Inquiry that evidence by police linking striking miners to muti ritual practices was “nonsense” and “stupid”.
Seoka is testifying before the commission as a witness to Advocate Dali Mpofu, who is representing the 278 miners who were arrested and the 78 who were injured during the Marikana shooting on August 16.
In late August, Seoka played a leading role as a mediator in the wage talks that eventually ended the six week long strike involving Lonmin workers.
Last week police showed the commission photographs and videos of naked men undergoing rituals at the koppie following the killing of two police officers and two security guards on August 12 and 13.
Police said the workers had believed the muti would make them invincible and brave.
Seoka said he knew about beliefs in muti, citing the example of football teams who would use intelezi, but still lost matches and had players injured, regardless.
“Allegations that muti was protecting workers against bullets, it’s stupid, it’s nonsense, you’re making black people stupid,” he said.
“Most of the workers here are young people and they have been through school, they should know better, that muti doesn’t protect them against bullets,” said Seoka in response to a question by Mpofu on his impressions of workers’ attitudes to muti.
Mpofu has previously told the commission that the muti usage claims were backward and racist.
Seoka told the commission police and Lonmin management had failed to use him as a catalyst to resolve the stand-off with the mine workers after he availed himself in the early afternoon of August 16.
When Lonmin lawyer Schalk Burger SC put it to him that evidence contained in his statement seemed to contradict that of the police, Seoka told the commission that in his 40 year experience as a priest in SA, he had learnt not to trust the police.
“Police in this country can never be trusted,” he said.
“Police in this country, there is enough to say about how they’ve tried to plant things on people, change statements. I don’t trust a police person,” Seoka said.
The commission continues.