News: November 2012

30 November 2012

Joseph Mathunjwa’s cross-examination continued. Mr Mathunjwa said that Jeffery Mphahlele told him that NUM members killed some Amcu members at the NUM offices and this information was contained in media statement issued by Amcu. Mathunjwa then apologised for this.

It was revealed that on Friday 10 August 2012, Lonmin got a court interdict against the unlawful strike. Mathunjwa said that Barnard Mokwena told him that management will not receive a memorandum from the workers.

Schalk Burger on behalf of Lonmin said that Barnard Mokwena will deny ever saying that to Joseph Mathunjwa. Mr Mathunjwa said a precedent must not be set where a memorandum from striking workers is to be received by the SAPS.

29 November 2012

The cross examination with Joseph Mathunjwa, president of Amcu, resumed with Ishmael Semenya  counsel for the South African Police Service (SAPS). Mr Mathunjwa condemned the carrying of weapons and violence by all strikers. In one of the media statements sent by Amcu and in correspondence with Lonmin management, Mr Mathunjwa says that armed protests was condemned.

Adv. Ishmael Semenya, SC asked Mr Mathunjwa to advise all Amcu members listening to condemn armed protest. Joseph Mathunjwa then acceded to Semenya’s request. Mr Semenya asked why in the statement, Mr Mathunjwa said he asked the strikers to leave the koppie but this is not reflected in the video recording of his address to the workers. Mr Mathunjwa said the video did not capture his entire address.

Mr Mathunjwa further refuted claims that he had promised the police that the protestors would lay down their arms the following day. He further said that he had hoped that the workers would return to work on the 16th. Mathunjwa said he cannot dispute the fact that the Provincial Commissioner had gone to visit an injured policeman in hospital since General Mpembe told him that she had gone to a torch lighting ceremony.

Adv. Semenya said when Provincial Commissioner Mbombo said ‘this will end today’; she meant that the strikers would be disarmed that day. Mr Mathunjwa also said that based on that what he had heard and observed gave him an impression that the police were intending to kill on that day.  

28 November 2012

A clip of a meeting held on the 15/08/2012 was played. After the meeting, Amcu is said to have gone to JOC and that reported that all went well and that they had agreed to meet the workers the following day. General Mpembe and three Lonmin officials were also debriefed by Mathunjwa. Mr Kgotla thanked Amcu for its intervention and Mathunjwa asked to meet with Lonmin to discuss where the workers should report for work the following day (should they agree), so as to conform to mine health and safety regulations.

On the 16/08/2012, Mr Mathunjwa went to Lonmin and got there at around 08:20am. He said he was because he was driving from Mpumalanga. Upon arrival Mr Mathunjwa says he saw a lot of NUM members in the foyer. He was told that there was going to be an SAPS media briefing. Mr Kwadi then told him that he will first have to consult with management before he can tell him where the workers should report. Mr Kwadi then went away for about 40 minutes.
At the JOC, Provincial Commissioner Zukiswa Mbombo confirmed to Mr Mathunjwa that she was now in charge and was unhappy with Amcu for not meeting the workers at 09:00am as agreed.

Mr Mathunjwa says he then asked for transport to take him to the koppie and was made to wait for too long. He decided to use his own transport and was further made to wait again after he asked for security to accompany him. “I then decided to leave but just before that, there was a lot of police officers and police vehicles and there a lot of ‘movement’. Upon arrival at the koppie I saw members of SAPS and that the mood of the strikers was calm.

A video of Joseph Mathunjwa addressing workers at the koppie was shown where he pledged his undying commitment to the striker’s cause and that he’s even willing to die for their struggle should it be God’s plan. He kneeled down and pleaded with the strikers to stop the flow of blood. He also urged workers to go back to work and advised that should the negotiations with Lonmin deadlock, then the CCMA would be approached for assistance.

Mr Mathunjwa testified that after his address, he advised against singing the song with words “how can we kill this NUM”, because some people may misinterpret it. Mathunjwa says the song is just a metaphor and does not mean to literally kill. When he got to the koppie, Mr Mathunjwa was again told by the strikers that they wanted the employer to come and address them. “they knew that it was not possible for them to receive the R12, 500 straight away but they needed the employer to come and talk to them.

After addressing the workers he then went to JOC, as it was a security regulation, to go and see Provincial Commissioner Mbombo. But she was not there. Lt. Gen. Mpembe, said the Provincial Commissioner had left to attend an ANC torch lighting ceremony with the premier. Mr Mathunjwa says he called Jomo Kwadi so that he can give them a response from the workers but he said management was not willing to meet him. “I feared for the worst as Mr Mokwena had said that the police will go to the koppie and do their job.”

Mr Mathunjwa says he then sent an sms to Gen. Mpembe and SAfm talk show host Xolani Gwala that: “since no one is available to give feedback to, we are going back to the koppie to tell the workers that no one is available. Let peace prevail.” Upon arrival at the koppie, he told the strikers that no one was available to hear their response. He says he then told them that they should all disperse because they were going to be killed.

The strikers said that they won’t attack anyone it’s only the police that will shoot them and they thanked him for all his assistance and asked him to leave the koppie. They said they will remain there. Mr Mathunjwa says he drove off a few meters and then stopped and told his comrade that they can’t leave the strikers to be killed. While there, the strikers kept waving at him to go.

Joseph Mathunjwa says he feared the striking workers were going to be killed because of the following reasons:

  1. Provincial Commissioner had said that “this thing must end today”
  2. The unavailability of the Provincial Commissioner
  3. Management had reneged on its promise
  4. Management’s unwillingness to meet with the workers
  5. During the meeting on the 15th, Mr Mokwena had said that the police must go and do their job at the mountain

While they were driving back, Mr Mathunjwa says they were stopped by the police and they asked him to identify himself with some kneeling and pointing firearms at him. He explained this experience as very traumatic. During the trip, one of the occupants in the car received a call saying “the police are killing us.” Mr Mathunjwa says he believes that the tragedy could have been avoided.

27 November 2012

President of the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) Joseph Mathunjwa took the stand.

Mr Mathunjwa said that Rockdrill operators (RDO’s) are the ones who demanded the R12, 500. Amcu played no role in the formulation of the demand. He said that he first heard of the demand on 13 August 2012.

In late July 2012 Mr Barnard Mokwena, a Lonmin executive called Mr Mathunjwa to confirm rumours of a pending strike. Before that, RDO’s at Implats had received a substantial salary increase. Mr Mathunjwa says he advised Mr Mokwena to arrange an urgent meeting with all affected. Mokwena said he will talk to NUM General Secretary Frans Baleni, but he didn’t return to Mr Mathunjwa. Mr Mathunjwa says he then heard from Mr Mokwena on the 10th of August 2012 and confirmed that there will be a strike to bring a memorandum but he said that the SAPS will receive the memo. Mathunjwa says he advised Mokwena that he should receive the memo and that he should thereafter arrange an urgent meeting.

Mr Mathunjwa testified that he wrote a letter to Mr Mokwena on 10/08/2012 and that there was no response to it. Lonmin then brought an application to interdict the unlawful strike. Amcu did not oppose the application and because Amcu did not call any strike. On 13/08/2012 Amcu got a call from Lonmin’s Mr Jomo Kwadi who asked for intervention since there was violence at the mine. Mr Kwadi said there was a meeting on the 12th and Amcu asked why they were not called and he says there was no answer.

Mr Mathunjwa says he got an sms from Mr Mokwena, which said that 4 people had been shot at Wonderkop and that Mathunjwa should call an urgent meeting. “I then asked Amcu’s national organiser and Secretary General to go to Lonmin to meet management and the branch committee. On the 14th, Mr Mathunjwa got a report back from his comrades. A press conference was called and a media statement was then released, wherein Amcu condemned the killings during the strike.   

On the 15/08/2012 NUM President Senzeni  Zokwana, Amcu President Joseph Mathunjwa and Mr Barnard Mokwena from Lonmin participated in an SAFM talk show, hosted by Mr Xolani Gwala. In the discussion, Mr Mokoena said Mr Mathunjwa was lying to the public and that he (Mokoena) had not called Mathunjwa in July to ask him about the rumours of the imminent strike. By the 15th, ten people had already been killed.

In a clip that was recorded at the meeting on 15/08/2012, Mr Mathunjwa did not mince his words when he said that Lonmin was 110% responsible for all the violence since they did not take his advice of holding an urgent meeting with all affected parties. He also called on all leaders to go to the koppie to address the workers so as to quell the violence. Lonmin declined to meet the workers at the koppie but the agreed to engage workers through the right, properly recognised structures. Mr Mathunjwa went to the koppie that night in an inyala with the SAPS and members of his delegation, where he addressed the strikers from inside the inyala.

26 November 2012

Warrant Officer Wessels continued to testify before the commission on the different types of firearms and their effects. He was cross-examined by Adv. Dumisa Ntsebeza, representing the families of the deceased. Wessels explained that sometimes a bullet disintegrates (explodes) when it hits its target.

23 November 2012

Adv. Louis Gumbi representing Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (POPCRU) commenced with cross-examining Bishop Seoka. The Bishop denied that his statement about him not trusting the police is a setback towards crime fighting. Bishop apologised for police officers killed in the line of duty. When questioned by Dali Mpofu, Bishop confessed that there have been a lot of changes in the SAPS but many foul elements were inherited and still exists currently in the SAPS.

Bishop Seoka said no one had informed him why the impasse had to be resolved on the 16th. He also denied knowledge that Provincial Commissioner had said that the 16th was D-Day. The Bishop mentioned that his only concern for going to Marikana was to create a peaceful atmosphere. When asked by Dali Mpofu, the Bishop conceded that he would have gone back to the koppie had he known that it was possible for him to, since he did not want to lose the trust of the workers. He further said he regretted not going back to the koppie especially after he had heard of what had happened and the distressing call he received. “I still hear the voice on that call and it has placed a a huge psychological burden on me.”

Furthermore, the bishop recommended that psychological support should be given to everyone at the commission who were affected in one way or the other.
Warrant Officer Albert Wessels who has been working at the ballistics section of the SAPS since 2000, was called in to give evidence. Warrant Officer Wessels gave detailed information on the different kinds of firearms (pistol, revolver, sub-machine gun, etc.) and their uses.

When quizzed by Adv. George Bizos, W/O testified that a birdshot gun is the least likely to cause fatal wound.

22 November 2012

Bishop Seoke was again cross examined by Mr Burgers on his involvement on the 16/08/2012. The Bishop was asked why he was blaming Lonmin for not breaching the police’s no-go area. The Bishop contends that Lonmin missed a good opportunity to allow for mediation.

A great deal of time was spent on establishing the exact time the Bishop arrived at the koppie and the time he arrived at the JOC.

SAPS legal representative, Ishmael Semenya, started with the cross-examination. The Bishop said that not all policemen are corrupt, when quizzed about his earlier statement. The Bishop was asked to retract the statement he made about the police being corrupt. Bishop conceded that he should have said that not all of them are corrupt. He maintained however that whenever he deals with the police, he always starts from a point of suspicion.

The Bishop further agreed that not all police are corrupt. While being questioned by Adv. Dumisa Ntsebeza, the Bishop said that the police were unprofessional and impatient when negotiating with the striking workers. He further said he could have handled the situation a lot better.

21 November 2012

On the 20th the evidence leaders gave video footage of the events leading up to the shooting on the 16/08/2012at Marikana. The evidence leaders proceeded with their presentation on the 21st showing Google maps of the areas involved or affected by the shootings. Aerial photographs were also shown.

A video showing Amcu president Joseph Mathunjwa addressing workers on the 16/08/2012 and footage taken from a helicopter were shown as well.

14 November 2012

Colonel Henderson from the SAPS presented a video footage of Tuesday 14 August 2012. One of the protestors was shown urinating in front of the police, allegedly symbolising defiance of the police orders. Photos of the handcuffed injured protestors were shown and according to the police, this was done to provide a safe environment to enable the medical personnel to give the necessary attention. 

The police also testified that a number of dangerous weapons were removed from the scene. 148 warning shots were fired and 120 towards the striking workers. A total of 268 shots were fired. The police presentation further revealed that on the 16th of August 2012, a group of protestors fled and forced entry into the Wonderkop mine building, close to the Wonderkop stadium, damaging the fence and burned 5 vehicles.

At scene 1 there were 16 deceased, 13 wounded and 2 firearms were retrieved. There were also 33 knobkerries, 26 spears, 3 iron rods, 1 knife and 9 pangas. One of the two recovered firearms belonged to one of the deceased police officers (9mm pistol). At scene 2 there were 14 deceased, 15 wounded and 3 firearms (one unlicensed).

16 protestors were killed after they charged towards the police and 13 were wounded. Protestors then regrouped to koppie 2 and were successfully dispersed. On koppie 3, police were attacked and 14 people were killed and 15 were wounded. Shortly afterwards 5 vehicles were set alight at the Wonderkop mine premise.

Colonel Henderson further stated that from the 10th to the 16th of September 2012, 94 people were wounded. After the shooting on the 16/08/2012 police used water cannons to “flush out” who had hidden in the bushes and between rocks, to get them out to an open ground where it would be safer to disarm and arrest them.

Bishop Seoke, Anglican Bishop of Pretoria since 1998 took to the stand to give testimony on his account of events leading up to and including the killings on the 16/08/2012. He was questioned by Advocate Dali Mpofu, representing the injured and arrested. Bishop explained that he got to the miners on the koppie on the 16/08/2012. He said the striking miners asked him to call the employer to come to the koppie and address them. They also asked for food and water, since it was a very hot day. These requests were put to the Bishop by the leader of the strikers in a green blanket. The Bishop then went to the office of Lonmin management.

Mr Kwadi, Mr Kgotle and Mr Mokwena met with the Bishop in the Lonmin reception. According to the Bishop, all three were part of Lonmin management.
“Mr Kgotle said they were not willing to meet with the strikers because they were criminals and murderers”. Mr Mokwena asked the Bishop to accompany them to meet the police commissioner because Lonmin was not willing to grant the miner’s request.

At the Joint Operations Centre (JOC), they met with Lt. General Mbombo. Lt Gen Mbombo left them to go and get food and she also said security was non-negotiable. Mr Mokwena is reported to have told the Bishop to tell the workers that management will meet them if 1. They surrender their weapons; 2. They elect 5 – 8 leaders and 3. They disperse from the koppie.

The Bishop said that he was told by Mr Mokwena that he cannot return to the koppie as it was now a cordoned off area. A police chaplain told the Bishop that all unit need to be ready i.e. paramedics, social workers, police, etc. Since he was not allowed on the koppie, the Bishop then drove back home. While driving back, the Bishop says that he received a call that said, “where are you Bishop, we are being killed by the police”. Bishop said that he could hear gunshots, sounds of helicopters and people screaming in the background. The phone then went dead.

Bishop says he tried to call back but there was no answer. “That phone call kept me awake for several nights and to this day, it still haunts me.”
The Bishop suspects that the leader (the man in the green blanket) made the phone call. Bishop Seoke mentioned that he was shocked to see the leader lying dead in the front page of most newspapers the following day. The man in the green blanket was known as Nokkie or Mambush.

The Bishop said that had Lonmin management agreed to meet the workers, then the massacre could have been avoided. “I’m saying this because when they eventually met, an agreement was reached.” The man in the green blanket was one of the most peaceful and humble. “After having been a Pastor for 40 years, I can say without a doubt that the police cannot be trusted. They can mislead and plant evidence. I do not trust the police,” said the Bishop.

While with the striking workers, the Bishop confirmed that he did not know that the strikers had killed a number of people and that they were carrying guns. Adv. Burgers said that these were the reasons why Lonmin management did not want to go and address the workers. Bishop said that Lonmin missed a golden opportunity to let the bishop of a well-known and established church to mediate and help remedy the situation.