Farlam cuts short in loco inspection as crowd gets nasty

Lonmin mineworkers have accused the Farlam Commission of Inquiry of being affiliated to the National Union of Mineworkers, commissioner Bantubonke Tokota said on Tuesday (09/09/2014).

“While we were leaving, we were labelled as NUM people. It was also said we were there to waste time. This was said in Xhosa by the miners. I know who they are but won’t divulge their names,” Tokota said at the inquiry in Pretoria.

Inquiry chairman Ian Farlam abruptly cancelled an inspection in loco at Marikana, near Rustenburg, on Monday because of security concerns.

“I have no option but to terminate the proceedings now,” he said.

“I am very reluctant to do what I am doing. Whether there will be another inspection in loco will be discussed with the legal representatives of the parties, evidence leaders and the commissioners.”

He was addressing a large crowd of lawyers, Lonmin mineworkers, widows of slain miners, journalists, and police officers.

Farlam’s decision followed an altercation during which miners shouted obscenities at a woman, Helen Diatile, wearing a red NUM T-shirt when she joined the inspection.

“Voetsek [bugger off]. Fuck you,” miners shouted at the woman, who took cover among police officers.

Farlam intervened, telling the miners to “cut the nonsense”.

“I am in charge of this inquiry and this is a public place. Everyone is free to wear what they want. You have your Amcu [Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union] T-shirts on,” he said.

Police warned the miners that they could be charged with intimidation. No arrests were made.

The mineworkers were relentless in their attacks and Diatile and NUM lawyers left.

Most of the Lonmin miners wore Amcu regalia.

On Tuesday, NUM lawyer Karel Tip SC said cases of intimidation had been opened at the Marikana police station.

“The matter will have to be investigated through those channels,” said Tip.

Dali Mpofu, for the arrested and injured Lonmin miners, said even though he was not at Marikana on Monday, he was briefed about the incident.

“I have also had a discussion with some of the clients. From what I have heard already, there is some history and context to the events of yesterday,” said Mpofu.

“One should not jump into conclusions. If charges have been laid, it means maybe, hopefully, one day the matter will be properly ventilated in an appropriate forum.”

Meanwhile, Mpofu said he had “good news”.

“The appeal lodged by Legal Aid SA against the decision to fund the strikers (lawyers) was dismissed yesterday. There is light at the end of the tunnel,” he said.

Mpofu attended the hearing funding case in the Supreme Court of Appeal in Bloemfontein on Monday.

The three-member Farlam Commission is holding public hearings into the Marikana shootings. The other commissioner is senior advocate Pingla Hemraj.

Thirty-four people, mostly striking miners, were shot dead on August 16, 2012, and 78 were wounded when the police fired on them while trying to disperse and disarm a group which had gathered on a hill near Lonmin’s platinum mining operations.

In the preceding week, 10 people, including two policeman and two security guards, were killed near the mine.

President Jacob Zuma appointed the commission in August 2012.

On Tuesday, Lonmin marketing director Albert Jamieson took the stand. – Sapa

Leave a Reply