Police: Protesters spared nobody

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Rustenburg - Armed, protesting Lonmin miners were dangerous and did not spare anything in their way, the Farlam commission of inquiry heard on Thursday.

This was the evidence of police Lt-Col Victor Visser, who gave an account of the violence and murder committed, allegedly by protesters in Marikana, North West, in August.

Visser showed the commission photos of the body of a mine supervisor who had been hacked to death.

“Not the police, and certainly not their co-workers, were spared by these protesters. The body of the supervisor had been hacked several times and a (cattle) skull was placed on his chest.

“There were several other animal skulls lying around in the veld. Whether the skull had any significance or not is not for us (to judge).”

The commission is investigating the deaths of 34 miners shot in a confrontation with the police near Lonmin's mine in Marikana on August 16. Ten other people were killed during protests the preceding week.

Visser told the three-member commission that as of August 14, the death toll had risen to 10. Sixteen people were wounded.

“The deceased people included mine employees, security and police officers.”

On August 15 around 3am, Visser said there was an ATM bombing at a supermarket in Wonderkop, Rustenburg.

“At that scene, a police round (bullet) was found. It was linked to the R-5 rifle which had been stolen from police officers killed on August 13.”

Explosives had been used to gut the ATM, he said. Police reinforcements were rallied and 746 officers were sent to the Marikana region around 6am on August 15.

Earlier, the commission heard that naked protesters had queued to be sprinkled with muti (traditional medicine) in rituals purported to make them invincible.

“At 3.23pm (on August 14) it was reported that the protesters had imported an inyanga (herbalist) or sangoma (traditional healer) to perform rituals that would ensure them victory in a confrontation with opponents,” Visser said.

“The men gathered at the koppie (hill), carrying pangas, spears, and knobkerries, and believed the inyanga would sprinkle them with muti to make them brave.”

Aerial photographs of two queues of naked men were shown to the commission.

“These rituals were observed by members of the police who were in a chopper. The bodies were wiped down (and sprinkled) with a substance.”

A large contingent of police vehicles headed to the hill as part of a six-point plan, the aim of which was to disarm the protesters.

“Police got there when the ritual was ending. We managed to capture the last part of the ritual on video. As soon as the police arrived, the people started to get dressed. You can clearly see from the video a protester 1/8kneeling down 3/8 urinating in the direction of the (arriving) police.”

In the video, a man in a red shirt stands in the middle of a group of protesters and sprinkles them with a liquid. - Sapa

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