Marikana: What are Mr X's reasons for testifying

Farlam commission. (Madelene Cronje, M&G)

Farlam commission. (Madelene Cronje, M&G)

Has Mr X been offered anything in exchange for his testimony and is he tailoring his case to match the police’s case? Advocate Dumisa Ntsebeza grabbed the bull by the horns on Friday and asked Mr X these questions, which have no doubt been on many minds. 

Ntsebeza, who represents the families of the deceased miners, wanted to know if Mr X had been offered indemnity or anything else in exchange for his testimony. “It can only be that someone who’s committed such serious crimes who admits to them must be getting something,” Ntsebeza put to Mr X. 

However, Mr X insisted he would not gain anything from testifying at the Farlam commission, but that he felt he wanted to tell the truth about what happened at Marikana. “I don’t believe that I’d get anything.
It is painful. It is the pain that I felt of the people whose relatives were killed and how we killed them,” he said.  

But Ntsebeza persisted with his point. “The actual reason you decided to come and give evidence in this commission is because you have the belief that there is something to gain from it.” 

Ntsebeza suggested that this could even be the belief that he wouldn’t be charged and as a result would be saved from jail time. Although Mr X had said earlier in his testimony that he believed he wouldn’t be charged if he told the truth at the commission, on Friday he said he believed that he would in fact be charged because of the criminal acts he participated in. 

Mr X’s evidence
Mr X also said no one had told him if there were any charges against him and that he hadn’t ever appeared in court for anything related to Marikana. Tailoring evidence, Ntsebeza later steam rolled over Mr X’s evidence – showing up discrepancies between his original statement made in February 2013; his next, more detailed, statement which was made in March 2014 and his evidence in chief. 

Over the course of his testimony Mr X has given several excuses for the differences between the two statements. The first being that the police officer who took his original statement was not isiXhosa speaking and that they did not understand each other properly. 

He also said that his second statement was taken by the South African Police Services (SAPS) advocate, Frank Mathibedi, who Mr X claims had asked him more in depth questions which led to more detailed responses. But Ntsebeza argued that one is likely to remember an event more clearly a few months after it happened than more than a year after the event. 

Ntsebeza pointed out that in his second statement, Mr X had listed many more instructions that were allegedly given to the strikers by inyangas (traditional healers) than in his original statement. “Now I’m saying to you, it’s funny that something that happened in 2012 you remember it better in 2014 than in 2013,” Ntsebeza said. 

Mr X’s explanation for Ntsebeza’s allegations was that things weren’t clear in his head, he’d forgotten some of the details and that some people’s minds work more slowly than others. Ntsebeza then dropped a bombshell, accusing Mr X – who is a police witness – of tailoring his case to match the SAPS’s case.  

‘Forced to defend themselves’
“These things that you’ve added now, these were things which were mentioned by the police before you came to give evidence here,” said Ntsebeza. “There are three of these things … The police are saying this thing of hitting the weapons, is a sign of aggression by the people. The second thing the police are saying is that the strikers came to them in a striking position, which is also a sign of aggression.” 

“They say the third thing, these people amongst whom you are involving yourself, that these people were attacking the police and that the police were then forced to defend themselves.”

Ntsebeza then said that things that had appeared in the police’s case all along suddenly appeared in Mr X’s statement which he gave to Mathibedi. “What you’re saying in your second statement that these were instructions from the sangoma are not so. You put it in the statement because you want it to be in line with the police case,” Ntsebeza said.  

Ntsebeza also pointed out that certain details, such as the strikers crouching and ululating in order to speed up the effect of muti they had taken were heard for the first time in Mr X’s evidence in chief and were not mentioned in his statements. Mr X insisted that the inyangas had given these instructions. 

Ntsebeza then resorted to showing Mr X video footage that showed that the makarapas (strikers who had undergone rituals) had changed their clothes over the seven days. According to Mr X one of the instructions from the inyangas was that they were not to change their clothing during the seven days of the strike in order for the muti to continue working.  

Mr X grudgingly admitted that their clothes had changed before the commission adjourned for the day, in effect proving that either his evidence is false, or that the miners had disobeyed the inyangas’ instructions. Mr X will continue testifying on Monday and Tuesday, whereafter Lonmin employees will be called to the stand. Cyril Ramaphosa, who was a Lonmin board member at the time of the strike, is expected to testify on August 11 and 12 2014.

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