Family members of the two Lonmin security guards who were murdered by striking miners on August 12 2012, cried inconsolably as a witness known only as “Mr X” described the details of their murder on the day. His testimony prompted commissioner, retired judge Ian Farlam, to grant an early tea break.
The widows clung onto each other during the break, trying to comfort one another. Mr X, who is still having his evidence led by the South African Police Service representative Advocate Frank Mathibedi, told the commission how two of the strikers fired shots at the Lonmin security guards after they prevented the strikers from entering the hostel.
He then described how one of the strikers stabbed security guard Hassan Fundi with a spear. Mr X himself hit Fundi on the cheek with a panga and Fundi’s tongue and chin were then cut off and put into a plastic bag along with his blood.
The car that contained the body of the other Lonmin security guard, Frans Mabelani was then doused with petrol and set alight. “[That] flesh and meat were given to the inyanga [traditional healer] who burnt it until it was ashes. Then it was mixed with some ash to strengthen the men … so that they don’t become afraid and turn back,” Mr X said through an isiXhosa translator.
Graphic photos were shown of the two murdered security personnel and the burnt frame of the car, eliciting more crying from family members in the gallery.
Application to stop Mr X’s testimony
Mr X’s testimony continued on Thursday afternoon after Farlam dismissed an application by Advocate Dali Mpofu, on behalf of the injured and arrested miners, for Mr X to be prohibited from giving any further evidence “until his mental state has been determined, more particularly his competence and capability as a witness”.
Mpofu claimed that the application was to protect the rights of his clients not to be defamed, not to be falsely implicated in serious crimes so as to expose them to possible criminal prosecution and not to have their dignity impaired – particularly those who are unable to answer for themselves.
The application was based on various actions by Mr X, “the last straw” being the accusation he made on Friday “against the affected parties by alleging that his physical or mental distress was caused by their supernatural powers and actions directed at him” causing the commission to adjourn early in order for Mr X to consult with his inyanga.
Both the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union and the families of the deceased mineworkers supported Mpofu’s application, however the application was opposed by the SAPS, the evidence leaders, the National Union of Mineworkers, Lonmin mine and the families of the two police officers who were killed as well as the one who was injured in the week preceding the massacre.
After the lunch break however, Farlam ruled that Mpofu’s application be dismissed. “In the present case I’ve had the opportunity to observe the witness and to form my own opinion as to his ability to testify,” said Farlam. “I am satisfied that it cannot be said that there are even prima facie indications that he is deprived of the proper use of his reason … I’m not satisfied that sufficient grounds exist that Mr X may not be a competent witness … and it follows that the application must be dismissed.”
The testimony of Mr X continues on Tuesday.