Jim Nichol, who represents miners’ families at the inquiry into South Africa’s Marikana massacre, reports on developments
During the Marikana massacre there were two places where people were killed, 200 or 300 metres apart.
One was seen on TV. Then the “killing koppie,” an area of rocks and trees, was where the largest number of miners were killed.
This was systematic killing. The arrogance of some of the officers giving testimony amazed me.
One officer looking into the killings told the inquiry that he found a rock, on which were several police issue cartridge cases. This was just above a place where bodies were found.
He was asked, “What did you conclude?” He answered, “Nothing.” He said there was not enough evidence to make a conclusion.
This is the same officer who went around videoing the bodies for the investigation. Nobody involved in the investigation knew that someone else had taken photos earlier.
When these were compared with the official photos it was clear that someone had planted weapons by the bodies. One man’s hand had been lifted to place a sharp butcher’s knife under it. Another had been moved to put an iron bar under him.
It’s difficult to describe how utterly disgusting this was. As the video plays, officers can be heard laughing as they walk between the bodies.
Someone has systematically planted evidence. Police say a dead miner had a gun. But the one they say was found on the body hasn’t been fired.
It is clear that this tampering with evidence could not have been done by one person. It must have been carried out by one of the teams carrying out the investigation.
Each team was led by a general or a lieutenant colonel. Someone in authority must have authorised this. So this is not a case of one rotten apple in the barrel. The inquiry has been shown revolting photos of people shot in the back of the head so their eyes hang out.
In my career as a lawyer I’ve dealt with thousands of criminals. I’d only call a couple evil. But whoever did this is evil and that continues in the witness box.
Two police officers were killed during the strike, on 13 August, just days before the massacre. There’s clear video footage from before they were killed and clear footage afterwards, but nothing from the time.
Now the Lonmin firm—that owns the mine—is like a state within a state. It has its own armed police force. We have now seen CCTV footage of the missing period. It shows the police attacked miners.
This attempt at a cover-up continues all the time. It is a disgusting attempt to shift blame onto the strikers. We can expect another three weeks of police evidence.
We have managed to get families here from Lesotho, Swaziland and the Eastern Cape. That has changed the climate in the inquiry as they are there listening every day.
More than 30,000 striking miners at the Amplats platinum mine near Rustenburg in South Africa rejected the firm’s latest pay offer last Saturday.
This was a one-off payment of 4,500 rand (£325) and an agreement to negotiate on wages next year. The workers are demanding a rise of 4,500 rand a month.
Bosses said the offer would lapse if workers did not return to work on Monday morning. The firm had previously sacked 12,000 of the striking miners.
Strike leader Evans Ramokga said, “The strike continues. We are not happy with the conditions on the offer, like the final warnings and threats of disciplinary actions for dismissed workers.”
Some 10,000 to 12,000 workers attended a strike rally at the football stadium in Rustenburg on Saturday. Workers from other mines joined strikers, including from Lonmin’s Marikana mine, where workers won a major increase when their strike fought on despite a police massacre.
A representative from Numsa, the Cosatu-affiliated metal workers union spoke in support of the strike. This was significant. The Cosatu trade union federation has remained hostile to the recent unofficial strike wave across South Africa.
Amplats striker Tumi Moloi is speaking at the Unite the Resistance conference in central London this Saturday 17 November.