Marikana commission: 'I shot him at least 10 times'
One of the Marikana police shooters thas old the Farlam commission how he fired 10 shots at a striking mineworker. Constable Edward Sebatjane held his left arm above his shoulder as he demonstrated how the mineworker, Thobile Mpumza had first charged at him with a spear.
Sebatjane was part of the group of police members that was deployed to protect the Nkaneng informal settlement at Marikana on August 16 2012. Police shot and killed 34 strikers and injured more than 70.
While having his evidence led by South African Police Service (SAPS) representative, Advocate Sesi Baloyi, the constable described how Mpumza had charged towards him with a spear in his left hand.
According to Sebatjane’s statement, when he tried to arrest Mpumza, the mineworker turned and tried to stab at him with his spear. “I drew the pistol and fired one round to his chest,” says the statement. Sebatjane claims that the miner charged him again, to which he responded with gunfire. While he was firing, he fell over backwards, but continued to fire at Mpumza. Mpumza then fell to the ground and later died at the scene.
Sebatjane allegedly only learnt later that evening that one of his colleagues, Constable Ezekiel Mabe, had also fired shots with a R5 rifle at the mineworker in Sebatjane’s defence.
Advocate Dumisa Ntsebeza, representing the deceased miners’ families, confirmed this, saying that the post-mortem showed that “13 bullets entered his [Mpumza’s] body on that day”. Ntsebeza then showed the commission shaky cellphone video footage taken of that incident and tried to get Sebatjane to identify the voices in the recording, where officers can be heard talking crudely about the injured miner.
“That mother fucker. I shot him at least 10 times. He keeps coming, coming,” one officer can be heard saying. Sebatjane denies that this is his voice.
“There’s muti there. There’s muti. Leave it … Ja, that’s a muti shit. Doesn’t work hey, baba,” the dialogue in the video continues.
Once again Sebatjane denied that this was him speaking.
Soon after that an officer says in Afrikaans, “Ek het hom … 10. Ek het leeggemaak. Hy kom nogsteeds. [I have him … 10. I emptied it. He’s still coming].” Sebatjane could also not identify which officer said this.
Ntsebeza informed the commission that based on these conversations in the video, his team will be arguing that Sebatjane had lied in his statements and that in the video “what we see there are your colleagues complimenting you on the base of what you’ve told them you’ve done … it is a celebration by officers who have just killed a person … it’s like they’re a feeding frenzy of wolves at a dead body …
“When they say there, ‘that muti shit doesn’t work here, baba’, there’s a triumphant tone that says even with your muti, we’re going to kill you. It’s not an expression of sympathy.”
Sebatjane disagreed with the advocate’s interpretation of the voices. He said: “I was confused at that time. I was scared, I was shaking. All I do remember was that I was very thirsty, I needed to drink water.”
Cross-examination of Sebatjane will continue on Monday.
Mr X to testify
Meanwhile, it is expected that Mr X will testify in camera on Monday, June 9 2014.
Mr X was allegedly part of the group of protesting Marikana miners who underwent a ritual that included two sangomas, the burning of live sheep and the swallowing of their ashes on August 11 2012. He is now in police witness protection.
It is expected that Mr X will testify about the events at Marikana relating to the organising and the planning of the strike; the intimidation and killing of employees who were unwilling to participate in the strike; the march to the National Union of Mineworkers’ offices on August 11 2012; and the killing of two Lonmin security employees on August 12 2012.
Mr X is also expected to testify about the events of August 13, during which two members of the police were killed and one seriously injured; the killing of security guards on August 14 2012; participation in rituals in preparation for a confrontation with the police; and a plan to attack the police on August 16 2012.