/ 23 June 2014

Marikana: Application opposed for Mr X’s mental observation

The Farlam commission has been postponed until next week to study information police have held back in the inquiry into 44 deaths at Marikana.
The Farlam commission has been postponed until next week to study information police have held back in the inquiry into 44 deaths at Marikana.

An application to have a witness known only as “Mr X” undergo mental observation was opposed at the Farlam commission of inquiry on Monday.

“The application is unsound in law and ought to be dismissed,” evidence leader Kameshni Pillay said in Pretoria. She said the application had no merit. “There’s no factual basis for the application,” Pillay said. Dali Mpofu SC, for wounded and arrested Marikana mineworkers, asked for Mr X to undergo mental observation. 

He may not be named to protect his identity. “The nature and purpose of this application is simply to seek a ruling that Mr X’s competence and capability to give evidence as a witness in the commission be investigated, preferably by means of a medical inquiry into his mental or psychological state,” Mpofu said. 

He said the rights of affected parties had to be protected. “Mr X is a very important witness, and the issues he is pronouncing [on] are issues that are of a very serious nature. The allegations he makes in respect of certain people have far-reaching implications,” Mpofu said. 

He said on Friday that Mr X said his physical or mental distress was caused by supernatural powers and actions against him. Mr X’s face was revealed to the commission for the first time on Thursday, when he started giving evidence via video link from another location. 

‘Intimidation of Lonmin employees’
He testified that pieces of flesh were cut from one of two Lonmin security guards, Hassan Fundi and Frans Mabelani, strikers killed. The flesh was brought to a sangoma (traditional healer) to make muti. This was supposed to make the strikers bulletproof in their confrontation with police. 

He testified about “the killing and intimidation of Lonmin employees who were unwilling to take part in the violent strike”. Pillay said Mr X’s evidence had been clear and coherent. National Union of Mineworkers’ lawyer Karel Tipp said Mr X’s evidence was clear and its reliability could be tested during the commission. Mike van As, for Lonmin, said Mr X’s evidence corroborated evidence given by other witness. 

The police also opposed the application. The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union supported it. The commission is investigating the deaths of 44 people during the violent wage-related strike at Lonmin’s platinum mining operations at Marikana, near Rustenburg, North West. On August 16, 2012, 34 people, mostly mineworkers, were shot dead by police, who were allegedly trying to disarm and disperse them. Ten people, including two police officers and the two security guards, were killed during the preceding week. – Sapa