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NUM provided members with weapons at Marikana

Maryke Vermaak

The National Union of Mineworkers provided weapons so its members could protect themselves at Marikana, the Farlam commission of inquiry has heard.

Last year 34 striking mineworkers were shot dead and 78 wounded when police opened fire on them. (Delwyn Verasamy, M&G)

National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) member and Lonmin employee Saziso Gegeleza testified on the events of August 11, when striking workers tried to attack the union's office at the Lonmin platinum mine in the North West.

Karl Tip, representing NUM, asked him if there were usually weapons kept at the NUM offices, to which he replied: "No".

Gegeleza said NUM shop stewards had confiscated the weapons from striking miners.

He said NUM western platinum branch secretary Daluvuyo Bongo handed out weapons as they heard a group of strikers were heading towards the office to burn it down.

"I was given a knobkerrie and a spear."

Strikers retreated
He went on to explain how a large group of strikers neared the office. They threw stones and shouted: "Here are these dogs."

"They were so aggressive and they came towards the office running."

Gegeleza said the group had sticks, knobkerries, pangas and spears.

"I had fear. I was afraid, but I wanted to protect my life as well as the offices of the NUM."

He said just as the two groups were about to meet, gunshots were fired and the strikers retreated. He did not know who fired the gun.

"We chased them and they ran towards the hostel." He said they chased after the strikers to prevent them from planning another attack.

Testifying
Gegeleza testified how he saw a man, who he believed was injured, crawling on the ground, but did not approach him.

He said he found out during the commission's inspection in loco at NUM's office on October 2 that two strikers were killed on August 11.

Tip asked him if he ever saw any bodies in the vicinity.

"No I never saw them." He was testifying before the commission which is probing the deaths of 44 people at Lonmin's Marikana mine in August 2012.

On August 16 2012, 34 striking mineworkers were shot dead and 78 wounded when police opened fire while trying to disperse a group gathered on a hill near the mine.

In the preceding week, 10 people, including two police officers and the two security guards, were hacked to death.

The commission continues in Rustenburg. – Sapa

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