Striking miners hindered paramedics: Marikana

By IAfrica
In South Africa
Jul 24th, 2014
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PRETORIA – Netcare paramedics had to be escorted by armed guards after clashes between protesting miners and police in Marikana on August 16, 2012, the Farlam Commission of Inquiry heard on Thursday.

“The medics went in to assist the injured. We only went there because the medical personnel were scared to move in alone,” Dewald Louw, a Lonmin security superintendent, told the inquiry in Pretoria.

“We were requested by our security manager to escort the medical staff.”

Louw was led in submitting evidence by Mike van As, for platinum mining company Lonmin.

The inquiry was shown photographs of Louw wearing gloves and holding a shotgun and a cigarette.

“The photos show that I was wearing different hand gloves at different times. The gloves were tearing easily after we had been requested to assist by picking [up] the injured and deceased,” Louw said.

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

In the preceding week, 10 people, including the two policemen and two security guards — Hassan Fundi and Frans Mabelani — were killed.

Fundi and Mabelani were killed on August 12.

Louw said he and a colleague, Martin Foster, survived an attack earlier that day. He said protesting mineworkers prevented him and paramedics, from approaching the area where Fundi and Mabelani lay.

“The ambulance was driving behind us. We were hoping Mr Fundi and Mabelani were still alive. I then fired an AAA round to the crowd at that stage,” said Louw.

“They [Fundi and Mabelani] were dead when we arrived. I had never seen such a thing in my life. I feel ashamed because I broke down at that moment.”

Last week, police witness, only known as testified that Fundi and Mabelani begged for their lives before they were killed.

“They apologised but no one listened to them. We just killed them,” Mr X told the inquiry in Pretoria.

“They apologised from inside the car. Their car was damaged before they were killed.”

Mr X was being questioned by Karel Tip, for the National Union of Mineworkers, at the time. He also represents Fundi’s widow.

Mr X may not be named to protect his identity. He is under police witness protection and testifies at the commission via video link from an undisclosed location.

He claims he was part of a group of striking Lonmin mineworkers at Marikana, near Rustenburg, who underwent traditional rituals and participated in the murders of Fundi and Mabelani.

He has detailed in an affidavit how flesh was cut from Fundi’s face, how sangomas cut this into smaller pieces, mixed it with blood, and burnt it to ashes for the miners to lick. This was apparently to prepare them for a confrontation with police.

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