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Marikana striker: No reason to apologise

Naledi Shange

Marikana strike leader Xolani Nzuza said he did not owe an apology to the families of Lonmin employees killed for reporting for work in August 2012.

Miners gathered at the historic Marikana koppie on the second anniversary of the massacre in which 34 people were killed. (Paul Botes, M&G)

There is no need to apologise to the families of the Lonmin workers who were killed at Marikana in August 2012, one of the strike’s leaders told the Farlam Commission of Inquiry on Wednesday.

Arms crossed over his chest, Xolani Nzuza, asked evidence leader Geoff Budlender SC: “On what grounds should I apologise?”

Budlender asked him to search his conscience and say whether, as the most senior strike leader at Lonmin’s platinum mining operations at Marikana in August 2012, he did not owe an apology to the families of Lonmin employees Eric Mabebe and Julius Langa, who were killed for reporting for work during the strike.

The advocate asked Nzuza whether he felt the need to apologise to the family of Isaiah Twala, a striking worker killed when he was accused of spying, and to the relatives of slain Lonmin security guards, Hassan Fundi and Frans Mabelani.

“Explain to me the reason why I should apologise,” Nzuza responded at the inquiry’s public hearings in Pretoria. He said Lonmin and now Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, who was on Lonmin’s board at the time, were responsible for Fundi and Mabelani’s deaths.

“I have no knowledge of who killed the strikers, but I do blame Lonmin for the killings. If Lonmin had spoken to the strikers, no one would have died,” he said.

Nzuza said that those responsible for the murder of the two security guards and two policemen should be arrested. “I am hurt about security officials who were killed because they were in a place they were not meant to have been in,” said Nzuza. “I would be happy if the people who killed the security guards were arrested.”

Nzuza responded “yes” when asked whether the five were killed because Lonmin refused to give strikers more money.

Budlender also asked Nzuza whether he helped police find the killers. Nzuza responded saying that it was not his “duty”. “It is not my responsibility to help police catch murderers.”

Body parts used for muti
A witness, known only as Mr X, who testified before the commission several weeks ago, said he was present when the security guards were killed.

He said the strikers killed the guards, removed some body parts, and used their burnt remains in muti rituals, believing that the muti would make them strong and invincible against the police.

A police officer who led the Marikana operation testified last year about how his two colleagues, Tsietsi Monene and Sello Lepaku, were killed. “I heard [teargas shooting]. I then realised that strikers had turned against police. It wasn’t a very good scene,” said Major-General William Mpembe at the time. He was the deputy police commissioner of the North West.

“I saw warrant officer Monene being chopped and killed in front of me. I saw how officer Lepaku was killed,” he said.

Charges against miners dropped
Last week, the Ga-Rankuwa Magistrate’s court dropped the charges against 279 miners who were arrested during the violence because the State would have been unable to prove their cases if the matter went to trial. 

The accused had faced charges of public violence, illegal gathering, possession of dangerous weapons and intimidation. Initially, they also faced charges related to murder, but these were provisionally withdrawn by the court.

The commission, chaired by retired judge Ian Farlam, is investigating the deaths of 44 people in Marikana, near Rustenburg in the North West, in August 2012.

Thirty-four people, mostly striking mineworkers, were shot dead in a clash with police on August 16 2012. Over 70 people were wounded, and over 200 arrested while police were apparently trying to disperse and disarm them. In the preceding week ten people were killed. – Sapa

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