Farlam inquiry concludes Marikana hills inspection
On Monday, two North West crime scene experts led retired judge Ian Farlam and his team around the area where 34 miners were shot dead by police. Warrant Officer Patrick Thamae pointed out where bodies were found near the main hill, where the mineworkers assembled in the days leading up to the shooting on August 16.
A large crowd of observers and advocates representing the different parties followed Farlam and the experts.
Thamae pointed out the place where seven bodies were found. Another five were found next to a kraal, he said. Farlam asked him to show the commission where barbed wire was rolled by police on the day of the shooting.
The commission was then taken a few hundred metres further, to where a single body had been found.
Thamae said the body was found "in the road". Cartridge cases of various calibres had been found near the body, he said.
He told the commission a number of R5 rifle and pistol cartridges were found lying in areas surrounding the hill, where police were believed to have been standing at the time of the shooting.
In another area, pistol cartridges and rubber bullets were discovered.
Another crime scene expert, Captain Apollo Mohlaki, led the commission in inspecting a small hill. Mohlaki pointed out where bodies had been found. He also showed the judge the place where traditional weapons recovered from the protesters were heaped.
The judge held an umbrella to shield himself from the sun as he was helped up the steep hill. Large boulders on the hill were chipped by bullets.
The procession inspected other areas where other bodies and bullet cartridges were discovered. The locations had been marked with yellow paint. Mohlaki pointed out bullet markings and drops of blood on some of the boulders surrounding the small hill.
A group of miners, arrested after the shooting and since released on bail, stood watching on the sidelines of the commission's inspection. They would not talk to the media. The workers are represented by advocate Dali Mpofu, who defended expelled ANC Youth League president Julius Malema during his disciplinary hearing.
During the inspection, Mpofu stopped to speak to his clients. He told Farlam they wanted to point out that three or four helicopters had hovered over the scene on the day of the shooting.
Earlier, the mineworkers undertook their own scene inspection, separately from that of the judicial commission of inquiry. A miner showed Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) leader Joseph Mathunjwa areas where striking mine workers were shot by the police. He pointed to an area surrounded by rocks where a body was found, and indicated that the miner was shot from a helicopter above.
Mathunjwa, wearing a white Amcu T-shirt, took photographs and asked questions. Before the formal inspection started, residents from the nearby informal settlement approached the scene, singing struggle songs and carrying placards reading: "Don't let the police get away with murder".
The crowd shouted "amandla, awethu" while they danced.
A group of policemen stood watching.
The 34 miners were killed and 78 were wounded when police opened fire on them while trying to disperse a group of protesters near Lonmin's platinum mine in Marikana in August.
Some reports since the event have suggested that several miners were shot dead among rocks a distance from where the police clashed with workers.
The commission's inspection in loco continues on Tuesday, when the mine hostels, informal settlements and formal settlements will be visited. The commission will also inspect shafts and any other areas deemed important to the inquiry. – Sapa