Protected witness ‘Mr X’ a murderer, hears Marikana commission

A South African Police Service (SAPS) protected witness, identified as Mr X, is a murderer, liar and habitual criminal, the Farlam commission of inquiry heard on Monday.

Dali Mpofu, for the arrested and injured miners, opposed a special arrangement sought by the police to have Mr X testify from a remote location, through a video link.

"He is a multiple murderer and a self-confessed habitual criminal, having at least three murders under his belt. We have not been told what the deal is [between the police and the witness]," said Mpofu.

"Has this habitual criminal been charged, has he been promised immunity? Is he exchanging his so-called safety for frying other people falsely? Is he staying in some posh hotel so that he can come and lie?"

The man identified as Mr X was apparently part of the group of protesting Marikana miners who underwent a ritual that includes two sangomas, the burning of live sheep and swallowing the ashes on August 11 2012.

Muti rituals
In Mr X's sworn statement, seen by Sapa, he details how the belligerent miners attacked and killed Lonmin security guards Hassan Fundi and Frans Mabelani.

Hassan's body parts were removed and taken together with Mabelani's ashes for further muti rituals, according to Mr X.

He details how the sangomas cut Fundi's parts into smaller pieces and mixed with blood and burnt to ashes.

"We were instructed by the inyangas [traditional healers] to stand in a line and the ashes were put in our mouth using a spoon, which we licked and swallowed," Mr X wrote in his affidavit.

"After this, the inyangas told us that they had accomplished their mission in protecting us from police bullets, made us fearless, strong and invisible to the police."

Mr X also narrates how he, with other protesters, attacked and killed some police officers on August 13.

He said they also robbed the officers of their cellphones and service firearms.

Sesi Baloyi, for the police, brought the application, requesting the Farlam-led inquiry to give an order that Mr X should testify in-camera from a remote location.

Undisclosed name
Baloyi said Mr X's name would be disclosed only to the commissioners of inquiry, and lawyers for the wounded and arrested miners, but they could not disclose his identity to anyone.

She said it was inherent for the commission to exclude certain members of the public from the inquiry while someone testified.

When Mr X testified, the police wanted only the commissioners, lawyers, and accredited media to be present in the auditorium.

Mpofu said once he received Mr X's picture, he would share it with his clients.

"The commission cannot be asked to grant an order whose practical effectiveness is doubtful.

"As soon as Mr [Dumisa] Ntsebeza gives me the photo, I am going to share it with them, all 300 of them," said Mpofu.

"Mr X says the whole crowd intended to attack the police, it's so far-fetched that it borders on being ludicrous.

"All those people, 3 000 people [at the koppie] have a right to refute what is being said about them."

Mpofu said it was beyond the authority of Farlam to instruct that Mr X testify from a remote location far from the auditorium in Centurion.

"SAPS is entitled to protect its witnesses … they have the methods to meet those dangers.

Security
"They can provide him with security, we won't quarrel if he is brought here surrounded by 100 people – that is SAPS's problem," said Mpofu.

"He must be sitting in that chair [in the auditorium] like anybody else."

Evidence leader Kameshni Pillay supported the application to have Mr X testify in-camera through a video link.

"On a factual basis, having regard to all the factors, it has been shown to be reasonably necessary for Mr X to testify in-camera and via the video link," she said.

She said the life of Mr X and his family would be in danger if the commission demanded that he travel to testify daily at the public hearings in Centurion.

The inquiry is investigating the deaths of 44 people during strike-related violence at Lonmin's platinum mining operations at Marikana, near Rustenburg in the North West.

The police shot dead 34 people, mostly striking mineworkers, wounded over 70, and arrested 250 on August 16 2012 while trying to disarm and disperse them.

In the preceding week, 10 people, including two policemen and two security guards, were killed.

The public hearings resume on Tuesday. – Sapa

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