Mineworker: Cops shot hiding strikers
Pretoria - Hiding Lonmin miners were found and shot by police officers at Marikana on 16 August 2012, the Farlam Commission of Inquiry heard on Monday.
"There was sound of gunfire from all sides. Some bullets sounded as if they were so near us. One man said we should surrender. He raised his arms," Shadrack Zandisile Mtshamba, a Lonmin rockdrill operator, told the commission.
"He was shot on the right arm and he bent down. He raised his hands and said we should surrender. He was shot again in the stomach. The third bullet shot his leg and he fell down."
Mtshamba's evidence was led by Dali Mpofu, for the arrested and wounded miners.
Mtshamba had fled from the hill at Marikana, known as scene one, where the initial shooting took place on 16 August 2012.
‘Surrendered miner shot in the neck’
He said another miner, who was hiding near the shot mineworker also emerged, surrendering.
"When he came up with raised hands, he was shot in the region of the neck.
"He fell on his face. We became scared of surrendering after witnessing the shootings," said Mtshamba.
He said after a moment there were repeated shouts for the police to stop shooting. All the hiding mineworkers were then assembled and searched.
Mtshamba said some miners did not come out of their hiding places and they could have been dead or seriously injured.
"We were told to lie down and to crawl on hands and legs towards the Hippos [police Nyala vehicles]. The police were asking about the sangoma.
"They were kicking us while we lay on the ground. They were also bragging among themselves about the manner in which they had taken people down.
"They said if it were in Zimbabwe, they would burn us alive with petrol," Mtshamba wrote in his statement to the commission.
Miner was arrested
The commission, chaired by retired judge Ian Farlam, 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.
Mtshamba was one of 275 miners who were arrested on 16 August 2012. The men were released on warning.