Marikana commission delves into gruesome death of security guards

Tears flowed as a multimedia presentation by South African Police Service member Colonel Victor Visser showed the horror allegedly perpetrated by protesting Lonmin workers.

Visser was not present on August 16 but was asked by police to compile an “objective” report on the proceedings.

The security guards were murdered in the days leading up to the August 16 shooting at Marikana.

According to the report, the two security guards were murdered on August 12 as they prevented marchers from proceeding to the National Union of Mineworkers' (NUM) offices. Visser said four security guards tried to stop the miners, but the other two fled for safety, while their two colleagues were overpowered.

Visser's interpretation of events is that a union rivalry was the reason for the escalating violence and played an Eyewitness News clip from analyst Albert Wocke where he states: "What's surprising about this episode is how well Amcu (Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union) is organised, which is not consistent with its history. This indicates that NUM people have moved over. If Cosatu cannot reverse this process and move back to bread and butter issues, they are going lose this and their role in the alliance will be diminished."

Visser's presentation also included clips of a few hundred miners allegedly performing rituals on one of the Wonderkop koppies as well as photographs of a small group of miners running away with a shotgun robbed from one of the security guards.

A widow of one of the security guards wept and had to be comforted by family members when the graphic, close-up images were shown as part of the presentation. 

One image showed a dead man’s face hacked, with his tongue cut out, a second showed the shrunken, charred and unrecognisable remains of a guard, while a third showed a dead security guard barely visible inside a burnt vehicle.

According to Visser's presentation, violence soared between February and July and even prior to the August 16 shootings, police intelligence showed that "miners involved in unrest at other mines" had joined the Lonmin strike.

Kwanele Sosibo
Kwanele Sosibo

Kwanele Sosibo studied journalism at Durban's ML Sultan Technikon before working at Independent Newspapers from 2000 to 2003. In 2005, he joined the Mail & Guardian's internship programme and later worked as a reporter at the paper between 2006 and 2008, before working as a researcher. He was the inaugural Eugene Saldanha Fellow in 2011.

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