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Farlam: Mr X testimony adjourned for family death

Gabi Falanga

The Marikana Commission has once again adjourned before hearing the end of Mr X's testimony.

Judge Ian Farlam agreed to postpone the rest of Mr X's testimony hearing. (M&G, Madelene Cronje)

On Thursday, Mr X, who was being subjected to a difficult cross-examination by evidence leader, Geoff Budlender, told the commission he had a headache and was feeling dizzy. 

After adjourning early for lunch, Mr X’s testimony continued for just 30 minutes before he told the commission that he had found out the previous evening that a child in his family had died and was being buried on Thursday. 

“Our culture isn’t the same as white culture. Our culture when there’s a death in the family you mourn for that person. Can we please take a rest, I’m mentally exhausted,” he pleaded, before putting his head in his hands. 

After another short adjournment, Advocate Frank Mathibedi, who represents the South African Police Service, asked the commission to postpone Mr X’s testimony to June 14 as a result of the bereavement in his family. 

The commission’s chairperson, retired judge Ian Farlam, granted the adjournment, with former police minister Nathi Mthethwa scheduled to testify on June 14. Mr X’s testimony would continue after Mthethwa’s. 

Exaggerated importance
While cross-examining Mr X on Thursday, Budlender pointed to a discrepancy between Mr X’s statement and the evidence he gave at the commission. 

In his statement Mr X named five other people who were elected by the strikers on August 9 2012 to speak to Lonmin management the following day. However, in evidence given to the commission, he then testified that he was one of the five elected to represent the other strikers. 

After a lengthy backwards and forwards between Budlender and Mr X, it was still unclear whether or not Mr X was indeed one of the five. Despite naming and describing the five strikers who were elected, Mr X still insisted that he was one of the five. He claimed that some of those elected arrived late at Lonmin’s offices on August 10 and were replaced by other strikers. 

Budlender then accused him of lying, not for the first time. “I want to put it to you that your claim in your evidence to the commission that you were one of the five elected is clearly false,” he said. “It’s contradicted by your [February 2013] statement and by the evidence you gave this morning ... I want to suggest to you that you made a false statement in order to exaggerate your importance in these events. You were a foot soldier, but you want to present yourself as a general.”

A laughing Mr X maintained that he was telling the truth. 

Photo discrepancies
Budlender also argued on Thursday that Mr X was in fact not present on August 13 2012, the day that police and strikers clashed for the first time. He showed Mr X various photos taken on August 13 and 15, where he had previously identified himself for the commission. 

Budlender then proceeded to show Mr X differences in the clothing he wore in the various photos. The makarapas (strikers who had undergone rituals), of which Mr X was one, were not allowed to change their clothes after they had undergone rituals, in order to maintain the effectiveness of the muti they had used. 

Not only did Mr X’s clothes change in the different photos, but so did his face, Budlender pointed out. “I’m no expert on faces, but that face looks different from your face,” he told the witness. 

Despite these discrepancies, Mr X continually repeated that he had been there on the day.

Cyril Ramaphosa, who was on Lonmin’s board at the time of the unprotected strike, is expected to testify at the end of July.

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