Marikana miners burnt sheep alive in ritual
A group of striking mine workers gathered near a river on a dark night to undergo a series of rituals that would make it impossible for bullets to penetrate their bodies when fired at.
The miners, under the supervision of a medicine man, bathed in the river, then put two sheep, one black and another white, on a fire while they were still alive.
The ashes from the fire were then rubbed into incisions made on their ears by the medicine man. To illustrate that the ritual had the required effect, bullets were fired at a box and didn’t penetrate it.
This was evidence led before the Marikana Commission of Inquiry by police lawyer Ishmael Semenya during cross-examination of mine worker Siphethe Phatsha, a survivor of the shooting on August 16 that left 34 people dead.
The commission is investigating the circumstances that led to the deaths of 44 people who were killed violently during a strike by rock-drill operators employed by platinum mining giant Lonmin.
Semenya said a witness, known as Mr X, was going to present the above evidence before the commission.
Different sources have alluded to the presence of a medicine man who conducted rituals on the striking mine workers, which convinced them they would be invincible.
The commission has also seen video footage and aerial photographs of naked men standing in line near the koppie, being sprinkled with a liquid substance believed to be muti. Semenya is arguing that Phatsha and his group of armed strikers had declared war against the police.
Phatsha denied any knowledge of the rituals, saying he was not present when they were conducted.
He was earlier shown a video clip of him seated among a group of armed men who were gathered at a koppie near where the shooting took place.
Semenya argued that there were two distinct groups of the striking workers, one which gathered on the koppie, and another, a militant and armed group, sat in the front.
Phatsha said there were no distinct groups, arguing that they were merely Lonmin employees who wanted money from their employer.
The hearing continues.