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Lonmin guard told cops to disperse miners

2014-08-01 14:33

Pretoria - Lonmin mine security told police officers at Marikana to disperse a group of protesting miners gathered on 10 August 2012, the Farlam Commission of Inquiry heard on Friday.

"Do you agree that Dirk Botes and you approached Captain Govender and said that he must disperse the group of men standing on the opposite side?" commission chairperson retired Judge Ian Farlam asked Lonmin mining emergency and security manager Graeme Sinclair.

Botes is Lonmin's security risk manager.

"Mr Botes said that, sir. Not me. He made those remarks in my presence," Sinclair replied at the inquiry's hearings in Pretoria.

Farlam said Govender told Lonmin security he would not disperse the crowd as it posed no security threat.

Sinclair concurred with Govender's evidence which indicated that gunshots were heard at the scene. The bullets were reportedly fired by Lonmin security guards trying to disperse the crowd.

Farlam asked Sinclair to explain if he agreed with Botes's sentiment that the protesters should be dispersed.

Sinclair responded: "Dirk was not in a quiet state, he was in a vocal [state]. When he came to me, I told him to calm down and address the situation correctly.

"I cautioned him about his behaviour. I told him Govender was there and would take responsibilities. I am not sure if those were my exact words, because it's two years ago."

The commission is investigating the deaths of 44 people during strike-related violence at Lonmin's platinum mining operations at Marikana, near Rustenburg in North West, in August 2012.

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

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

Shot by guards

Evidence leader Kameshni Pillay said two Lonmin employees identified only as Mtengwane and Dlomo alleged security guards shot them on 10 August 2012, even though they were not protesting.

"I cannot recall if there were any injuries resulting from any of the rubber bullets that were fired. It is possible, but I cannot recall right now," Sinclair said.

Pillay said according to Mtengwane's medical records he had "fairly serious injuries".

"The doctor records the injuries as a result of bullet wounds. If those injuries had been drawn to your attention, you surely would remember those, because they were serious," said Pillay.

Sinclair said he would remember if the injuries had been reported to him.

Farlam asked Sinclair why he did not include his participation in events of 10 August 2012, in his sworn statement to the inquiry.

"I forgot it when I was doing my statement. I see now that I should have put that in my statement. It was an omission on my part. I can only apologise for that," he said.

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