Marikana commission: witnesses ‘followed, threatened, arrested’

2012-10-24 20:47
Charl du Plessis
The work of the Marikana Commission of Inquiry may be derailed following claims that four potential witnesses due to testify against police were followed from the venue of the hearings and arrested.

In a press release issued today, the Socio-Economic Rights Institute (Seri), said the four men were “picked out” from a minibus taxi transporting fourteen people from the hearings in Rustenburg, on charges of murder, yesterday evening.

The rights group said “hoods were placed over their heads and they were told not to speak or they would be shot”.

“The circumstances of the arrest suggest that the police followed the arrested persons from the Commission, where they were identified for
arrest.”

Earlier today, North West Police spokesperson Brigadier Thulani Ngubane told Sapa that four men were arrested in connection with the murders of four miners at Marikana over the past three weeks.

Ngubane denied that the arrests were an intimidation tactic, saying that the police were “confident that there is evidence linking the arrested suspects to the killing of the victims”.

But Seri said the four men were providing the legal team representing injured and arrested miners with “information and testimony which is adverse to police”.

The legal team representing the miners, led by Advocate Dali Mpofu, said it could no longer in good conscience provide names of potential
witnesses to the commission.

According to Seri, it has written to police lawyers asking them to release the miners and give an assurance that no more miners will be arrested until the commission has completed its work.

Seri said that if it did not receive such an undertaking, it would ask for a postponement of the commission when it resumes its work on
Monday.

The group said it was consulting with miners over whether they would continue to participate in the commission if the postponement was not granted.

The Farlam Commission of Inquiry was appointed by President Jacob Zuma to investigate the circumstances surrounding the deaths of more than 40 people at Marikana during violent protests earlier this year.

Earlier this week, City Press reported that intimidation and threats of violence against witnesses was hampering the collection of statements from potential witnesses by the commission.