Marikana: Police were absent when miners clashed with NUM

NUM officials refused to vacate the office and they were attacked by the strikers. (Delwyn Verasamy, M&G)

NUM officials refused to vacate the office and they were attacked by the strikers. (Delwyn Verasamy, M&G)

A senior Lonmin security officer told the Farlam commission on Monday that Lonmin security forces had been frustrated by the lack of police presence in the days leading up to the 2012 Marikana strike.

Julius Motlogeloa said there were no police on the scene on August 11 2012 when striking miners clashed with National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) officials outside their offices. Motlogeloa also overheard another senior Lonmin security officer, Frans Mabelane, complaining about the lack of police presence on the day.

Motlogeloa told the commission that Lonmin’s security command centre informed him on August 11 that the strikers were heading towards the NUM offices and allegedly planned to burn them.

Motlogeloa and his partner, Elias Dibakoane, then went to the NUM offices where they warned union official William Setelele that the strikers were approaching. But the officials refused to vacate the office and they were attacked by the strikers.

Motlogeloa and Dibakoane fled the scene for their own safety, but returned later to give medical assistance when they realised that two people had been shot and injured.

Mr X’s testimony disputed
Advocate Dali Mpofu, who represents the injured and arrested miners, commended Motlogeloa for not trying to stop the 3 000-strong group of strikers.

While being cross-examined, Motlogeloa disputed Mr X’s testimony, which stated that it was Lonmin security officers who were responsible for the shooting on August 11. He told the commission that it was NUM officials who “pounced” on the strikers first.

Mpofu accused Motlogeloa of not helping police to identify the assailants once they arrived on the scene. Motlogeloa responded that he had not seen or heard the shooting himself and that, by the time the police arrived, everyone had dispersed. Mpofu then pointed out that those responsible for the shooting had in fact been identified, but that no arrests had been made.

Mpofu also criticised the decision made by Lonmin security officers the following day, August 12 2012, to form a line in an attempt to stop the striking miners from attacking the NUM offices again. The decision to try to stop the strikers was allegedly made by Mabelane, who was then killed and burnt by the strikers.

‘Angrier’ than before
Mpofu argued that on August 11 Motlogeloa made a sensible decision to avoid confrontation with the strikers, given the size of the group and the lack of numbers in Lonmin’s security forces. He then asked why the security officers decided to try to stop the strikers the following day, when it was obvious that the strikers were “angrier” than on the previous day.

Motlogeloa agreed with Mpofu, but was unable to answer his questions because it was not he who had given the instruction on August 12.

“The task of protecting the NUM offices on the 12th should have been carried out by police,” Mpofu told the commission. “It was beyond the scope and capacity of Lonmin security.”

Lonmin security manager Dirk Botes will testify at the commission on Tuesday.

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