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Marikana hearings conclude

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The public hearings of the commission of inquiry into the events at Marikana, near Rustenburg in North West, in August 2012 closed on Friday after a sitting lasting 300 days.

The hearings had proceeded more “harmoniously” than initially anticipated, said the commission’s chairman, retired judge Ian Farlam.

Adjourning the commission for the last time, he thanked the Rustenburg and Tshwane municipalities for accommodating the public hearings, and the department of justice, evidence leaders, legal practitioners, researchers and the media.

The commissioners, lawyers and evidence leaders went outside into the sunshine for photographs to be taken.

Earlier, evidence leader Geoff Budlender said it was important that any memorial to the events at Marikana be designed and placed in consultation with all those affected. This would help the reconciliation process.

In his closing submissions, Dali Mpofu SC, representing the miners wounded and arrested at Marikana, submitted that the police executed striking miners at Marikana because they were seen as treasonous.

“Once they killed police… it was now a challenge against the authority of the state,” he said.

He was referring to the two policemen hacked to death on August 13, 2012.

“These people were regarded as the enemy…. On the 13th, the situation changed into war.”

The commission is investigating the deaths of 44 people during strike-related violence at Lonmin’s platinum mining operations at Marikana.

Thirty-four people, mostly striking mineworkers, were shot dead in a clash with police, more than 70 were wounded, and 250 were arrested on August 16, 2012. The police were apparently trying to disarm and disperse them.

In the preceding week, 10 people, including the two policemen and two security guards, were killed.

Mpofu said it did not matter how morally reprehensible the strikers’ actions were.

“The death sentence has been abolished. They [police] sentenced them to death and executed them.”

He said he had asked his clients for input on his final submission to the commission, and he relayed this in the form of pleas.

“Please, whatever you do, do not insult the intelligence of South Africans and the people of the world.

“… Do not condemn victims and insult them with theories, such as the muti theory.

“Please do not expect that any of the players here did not foresee the possibility of death. Everyone foresaw possibilities of death.

“And don’t try to whitewash powerful politicians at all costs.”

Mpofu submitted that there was a cover up about a police national management forum (NMF) meeting held the day before the confrontation, when a decision was apparently taken to bring an end to the strikers’ armed gathering.

“[There is] something being concealed about what was discussed at the NMF…, something that must have been political, unlawful and, at all costs, is to be concealed from this commission.”

The commissioners will now prepare their final report, which is to be handed to President Jacob Zuma next year. SAPA

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