Marikana: Counselling would have prevented suicide, Mpofu says
Proceedings of the Marikana Commission of Inquiry got off to a dramatic start after a five-day break, when Advocate Dali Mpofu, who represents more than 300 people who were injured and arrested on the day of the Marikana tragedy, told the commission that one of the people who were injured had committed suicide.
Mpofu argued that the suicide could not have occurred if the man, who walked with the aid of crutches as a result of the gunshot wound he had sustained during the August 16 shooting, had been provided with counselling.
Thirty-four people died when police opened fire on striking mineworkers on August 16.
The man was apparently found hanging at a house in Marikana on Saturday.
He had been set to testify as one of Mpofu’s witnesses during the commission.
However, it was not immediately clear if the suicide was in any way linked to the commission or his upcoming stint in the witness stand.
Also today, at the end of his two weeks on the witness stand before the commission, Association of Mining and Construction Workers Union (Amcu) president Joseph Mathunjwa told commission chairperson, retired judge Ian Farlam, he hoped the commission would find the truth.
It has been a gruelling period in the witness stand for the union boss, who has been grilled by lawyers representing the various parties which form part of the commission’s probe into the deaths of 44 people who died during the violent Lonmin strike in Marikana in August.
“I hope this commission finds the truth, because we live by the truth,” Mathunjwa said in closing remarks after re-examination by his lawyer Tim Bruinders SC.
Mathunjwa told the commission he had done his best to avoid a bloodbath during his two addresses to the striking workers on August 16.
He had been quizzed by lawyers and commissioners on why he had not told the workers explicitly to lay down their arms and return to work when he addressed them at the koppie where there were more than 3 000 of them, some armed with machetes, spears and clubs.
Mathunjwa said although he had not said the workers should disperse in as many words, he had even gone to the extent of kneeling down and pleading with the workers to avoid a bloodbath.
He said he hadn’t used the exact words of calling for the workers to disperse because he wanted to gain their trust.
Mathunjwa said his kneeling had been turned into a “joke” before the commission, but Farlam assured him he didn’t believe it had.
Outside the auditorium where the commission is sitting, Mathunjwa was greeted with a roar of slogans by his supporters who wore green Amcu T-shirts.
- Lucas Ledwaba in Rustenburg