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Miner implicated by Mr X in cops' deaths found murdered

Gabi Falanga

A miner implicated by Mr X's testimony as one of those responsible for the death of police officers and security guards, has been killed.

Bongani Mehlonkomo, an Amcu secretary at Lonmin, was gunned down on Tuesday evening on his way home from work. (Paul Botes, M&G)

One of the miners who was mentioned numerous times in Mr X’s testimony and implicated by him as one of the killers of police officers and Lonmin security guards, has been killed.

Bongani Mehlonkomo, more commonly known by his clan name “Bhayi”, was gunned down on Tuesday evening on his way home from work. He was also the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) secretary for Lonmin’s Rowland Shaft. 

On Wednesday morning at the Marikana commission, advocate Dali Mpofu, who represents the injured and arrested miners, read out a statement on behalf of his clients. 

“What I’ve asked to place on record is that there is growing concern among the people that are present, which was expressed a few weeks ago … that the assassination might be connected to the mentioning of people’s names by Mr X,” Mpofu said.  

Mr X has repeatedly mentioned a number of names during his testimony, implicating certain miners, including Mehlonkomo, in the deaths and damage to property caused by miners in the week preceding the August 16 massacre in which 34 miners were shot and killed by police.  

‘Vulnerable to be killed’
Mpofu told the commission that the other miners who were implicated by Mr X feel their lives were also under threat. 

“They feel that unlike Mr X they are not protected by the authorities and are vulnerable to being killed … These people are very concerned because Mr X seems to know their names and surnames. They’re sure that [prior to] his arrest, these [were] people who Mr X didn’t even know, because they all knew each other with clan names … now he suddenly seems to know their full details,” Mpofu said.  

Mr X, who was one of the miners involved in the 2012 Marikana strike and has turned police witness, has been testifying via video link from a remote location for his own protection. 

Last week, he became hesitant to mention the names of the other miners involved in the killings, saying that he’d received a message from the miners through his family warning him not to mention their names.  

The striking miners are accused of brutally killing two Lonmin security guards on August 12 2012, two police officers on August 13 and at least two miners.  

‘Horrified’
Amcu’s legal counsel, advocate Heidi Barnes, told the commission that “Amcu is horrified and deeply saddened by [Mehlonkomo’s] murder.” She called for a “full and swift” investigation into his murder. 

The commission’s chairperson, retired judge Ian Farlam, extended his and the commission’s condolences to the family and friends of the deceased. 

“Every death is one too many,” he said. “I would ask the police authorities to redouble their efforts to ensure that as far as they can so that violence of this kind, whether fatal or other, is dealt with as effectively as possible.” 

He added that it was of grave concern to the commission that there has been another death in the background of Marikana. The South African Police Service’s legal counsel, advocate Ishmael Semenya said that he would convey the request to the police that the matter should receive their full attention.

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