/ 31 July 2014

SAPS was ‘assisted’ with food parcels at Marikana

Officials were struggling to cope with the scale of death and destruction
Officials were struggling to cope with the scale of death and destruction

An entry showing that police officers deployed to Marikana in August 2012 were supplied with food parcels by Lonmin was deleted from an occurrence book, the Farlam Commission of Inquiry heard on Thursday.

Deleted material from Lonmin occurrence books took centre stage at the public hearings in Pretoria when Lonmin group mining emergency and security manager Graeme Sinclair was cross-examined. Commission chairperson retired judge Ian Farlam read out a deleted entry discovered by evidence leaders.

“Why was this deleted? An entry of August 29 2012 saying a Warrant Officer Thebejane called to request 150 food parcels to [be delivered to] court tomorrow. [A Lonmin employee] Botes confirmed that the food parcels can be ordered for tomorrow morning.”

“Hannes Human [another Lonmin employee] then informed the buyer Patricia to order 150 extra food parcels. Why was that deleted? Who was the food parcels for?” said Farlam.

In response, Sinclair stuttered that he “wouldn’t have an idea” why it was deleted. “There was no particular reason for it to be deleted. If I gave that instruction, I don’t know,” he said.

Farlam went on to repeat his question, to which Sinclair responded, “The food parcels were for our guards. They were for additional people that were around, people we required.”

Deletion ‘wasn’t significant’ 
A line of questioning regarding the deleted entry then ensued, with Farlam asking Sinclair if he had “150 extra guards at the magistrate’s court”. Sinclair responded that Lonmin had assisted with food parcels for any police officers that had travelled long distances. “It could have been for that, or the guards, or our staff,” he said.

The chair pressed onto find out why the entry was deleted. “I am puzzled, I would be glad if you help me out of my state of puzzlement,” said Farlam.

Sinclair said that he could not explain why the entry had been deleted. “It wasn’t significant. I have listened to your opinion very clearly,” he said, to which Farlam interjected, saying, “It is not my opinion. I haven’t given my opinion on this.”

Earlier Sinclair had said that he’d instructed his personal assistant, only identified as Amanda, to “clean up” the documents before they were used in “public”. “I think she told herself, ‘this is Graeme’s instruction, let me take it out’. Did I ask her what exactly she deleted? No, I didn’t. Did I go back and check? No, I didn’t,” said Sinclair.

Commission ‘discovered’ occurrence book
Evidence leader Kameshni Pillay said most of the deleted information related to incidents involving Lonmin security guards firing at protesters on several days in August 2012. She said the complete Lonmin records of the August 2012 Marikana shootings were unearthed in the evidence leaders’ own investigations.

“Had it not been for two processes instigated and initiated by evidence leaders, this version [of the Lonmin occurrence book] would not have been before the commission,” she said.

“Exhibit XX2.10 is the document that Lonmin put forward as the occurrence book. This was the [occurrence book] that this commission was working with for a while until we requested the hard drive of Colonel Duncan Scott and discovered the other occurrence book late last year,” she added.

The police special task force’s Lieutenant Colonel Scott was in charge of drawing up the intervention plan to manage the strike-related violence at Lonmin’s platinum mining operations at Marikana, near Rustenburg in the North West, in August 2012.

Sinclair said he did not want to comment on what was given, or not given, to the inquiry. “Whatever I was ever asked for was certainly always made available. For me to comment on that, it would be incorrect of me,” he said.

Accusations rife
Earlier this week, Lonmin was accused of deliberately changing their records to conceal that their personnel had fired shots at strikers at Marikana in August 2012.

Evidence leader Advocate Matthew Chaskalson pointed out numerous instances where incidents that had been reported in Lonmin’s occurrence book had been omitted in the occurrence report that Lonmin submitted to the commission. 

“All evidence of Lonmin shooting at strikers seems to have been removed by someone in the log given to us by Lonmin as their logbook,” Chaskalson told the commission. This includes shootings on August 10, 11 and 13 2012.  

Lonmin witness Dirk Botes, who is a security manager at the mine, could not explain why these incidents had been removed from the record, and insisted that the people responsible for compiling it reported to the head of Lonmin security at the time, Graeme Sinclair, and not to himself.

On Wednesday, Advocate Dali Mpofu, who represents the injured and arrested miners, accused the mining company of having been involved in a “toxic collusion” with the police.

The three-member commission is probing the deaths of 44 people during the wage-related protests at Lonmin’s platinum mine in Marikana. On August 16, 2012, 34 people, mostly striking miners, were shot dead, 78 were wounded, and some 276 were arrested when police opened fire on a group gathered at a hill near the mine. They were apparently trying to disperse and disarm them. In the preceding week 10 people, including two policemen and two security guards, were killed in strike-related violence. – Additional reporting by Gabi Falanga