Marikana: Police to unleash Mr X
Police seem to have secured a coup to boost their case before the Marikana Commission of Inquiry into the killing of 44 people who died during a strike by rock-drill operators employed by Lonmin at Marikana in August last year.
Police lawyer Ishmael Semenya yesterday told the commission that a witness dubbed Mr X would testify about the rituals mine workers allegedly underwent during the strike.
The witness, Mr X, appears to have been part of a group of mine workers who allegedly underwent a ritual that included the burning of live sheep by the river on the night of August 11, five days before police opened fire on a group of mine workers, killing 34 of them.
Semenya is arguing that the mine workers underwent rituals which they believed would make them invincible against bullets and that they had declared war on the police when one of their leaders told a senior officer that they could sign a piece of paper to show the world how they were going to kill one another that day.
Semenya said a day after the alleged ritual, the mine workers took a decision to march to the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) offices in Wonderkop, and that they would not allow anyone to stop them.
Two security guards employed by Lonmin were hacked, stabbed and burnt to death when they attempted to stop the group of mine workers from marching on the NUM offices.
The following day, on August 13, two police officers were also hacked, stabbed and shot dead in a confrontation with the same group of striking mine workers who were marching towards a koppie where many of their colleagues were gathered.
During the two incidents, the striking mine workers allegedly took four firearms and an R5 rifle from the police and security guards.
Semenya argued that these two incidents convinced the mine workers that their rituals had indeed had the desired effect, which is the reason they refused to disarm and disperse, and charged towards the police who opened fire on them on August 16.
Semenya said Mr X would testify that the rituals did indeed take place and that there was a militant group of warriors among the strikers who were prepared for war.
Lawyers representing the families of the deceased mine workers and those who were injured during the shooting are disputing the existence of such a group and are denying that the mine workers underwent any rituals.
Siphethe Phatsha, a mine worker who survived the shooting, also denied that his colleagues underwent any rituals or that they had intended to attack the police.
He also voiced his displeasure about constantly being asked about Mr X.
“Let X come forward so we can hear what he has to say,” said Phatsha when Semenya put forward evidence to be led by Mr X.
When Semenya persisted, Phatsha fired back.
“Am I representing this X now?”
But a livid commission chairperson, retired Judge Ian Farlam, reprimanded him.
“That is a totally irrelevant question. You are just playing the fool. Just answer the question and stop wasting time,” Farlam said.
Phatsha concluded his testimony earlier today.
He said he had been a member of the NUM for 30 years and resigned his membership in December last year.
He said no one from the union had visited him or offered him any legal assistance after he was injured during the shooting.
The hearing continues.