Protesters disrupt Farlam inquiry

Pretoria - Protesters disrupted the Farlam Commission of Inquiry shortly after noon on Monday, shouting repeatedly that Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa has "blood on his hands".

Ramaphosa was being questioned by Advocate Dali Mpofu when a group of people started clapping and banging on tables.

Chairperson Ian Farlam walked out of the room as the group continued to chant that "Ramaphosa must resign" and "he has blood on his hands".

Sapa reported that bodyguards rushed into the auditorium and police officers stood guard at the entrance.

'This is serious misconduct'

About 10 minutes later, Farlam returned to the room and addressed the protesters, saying it is important that the witness be able to give his evidence and be cross-examined, so that the commission could find out what happened at Marikana in August 2012.

"Those who are interrupting proceedings are depriving us of the opportunity to hear this evidence... They are in fact impairing the work of the commission.

"This is serious misconduct which cannot be tolerated in any civilised society."

Farlam said he would give the protesters one more chance, and if there were further interruptions they would be removed from the room.

Farlam thanked Mpofu for calming the protesters down.

Proceedings resumed at 12:30 and adjourned for lunch just before 13:00.

Earlier, Sapa reported that security was significantly heightened at the Tshwane council premises ahead of Ramaphosa's testimony. A police water cannon, Nyalas and rolls of barbed wire were seen outside, while a large number of police and presidential protection service vehicles were also on the scene.

According to Sapa, a group of protesters seeking to enter the Tshwane council premises converged at the main entrance as Ramaphosa testified.

Some people in the auditorium wore white T-shirts written "Buffalo Head killed people in Marikana" and "McCyril the killer". Some T-shirts had a drawing of a buffalo head.

These were references to Ramaphosa reportedly once unsuccessfully bidding up to R19.5m for a buffalo cow, and his ownership of the McDonald's franchise in South Africa.