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15 November 2012 at 16:34 - Posted by Midrand

Police ‘cannot be trusted’ - SANEWS


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Bishop Seoka tells Marikana commission how police ‘fabricated’ evidence against the miners

POLICE in this country cannot be trusted, the Pretoria Anglican Church bishop, Johannes Seoka, told the Marikana Commission of Inquiry yesterday.

“After 40 years of being a priest, I can tell you that police in this country cannot be trusted. I can tell you how they have planted things on people, how they changed people’s statements. I myself, when I have to make a statement with the police, ask to write it myself,” Seoka said.

As the bishop, testifying in the case of 271 miners who survived the Marikana Massacre criticised the police, the families and mine workers seated in the gallery nodded their heads in agreement.

He went on to rubbish the police’s theory that the 3000 mineworkers who had gathered at Wonderkop hill on August 16, believed that performing a ritual and sprinkling muti known as “intelezi” on their bodies would make them immune to police gunshots.

“The allegation that miners used muti so the bullets wouldn’t work on them is nonsense, they are making out that black people are stupid. Those miners were fairly young and they had been to school, they knew that muti could not protect them from bullets,” he said.

“In the township, intelezi is known to be used even by soccer teams, they even sprinkle it on the field before a soccer match but that does not mean they will win the game, they still get beaten,” said the bishop.

Seoka was the first witness to be called by advocate Dali Mpofu to testify in the case of his 271 clients who were arrested and initially charged with the murder of their 34 colleagues.

He related his experience of the “arrogant and strong language” attitude the police and the miners’ employer Lonmin gave him and his colleagues when he tried to convince them to go and negotiate with the miners, just under an hour before the shooting happened.

“If only the police had listened and accompanied us together with Lonmin to the koppie, the massacre would have been avoided, it was unnecessary.”

Seoka said when he arrived to negotiate with Lonmin management, there was not much cooperation from the company, instead they referred to the miners as “criminals” and “murderers”.

The bishop’s meeting with the provincial commissioner Lt-Gen Zukiswa Mbombo was also fruitless.

“She said to us her main concern was security.

“She said we could go and negotiate with whoever we wanted but she would not compromise on security.

“She was there physically but not emotionally and then she said it was lunchtime and she had to get food. She left us there before we could respond.”

Seoka said as they were leaving they were warned by Mokoena from Lonmin not go back to the mountain as it was a security risk.

“We again met the police captain, who is also a reverend. He told us everyone from all police units including social workers, paramedics and priests had just been told to be ready but he did not elaborate why.”

He said as they drove off, he received a phone call that still haunts him today. The call, he assumed, was from Mgcineni “Mambush” Noki, also known as “The Man with The Green Blanket” who spoke as shots were fired by police.

“Bishop, where are you, we are being killed by the police,” Seoka said the man spoke in Xhosa before the line went dead.

“I could hear gunshots, helicopters flying and people screaming in the background. I tried calling back but there was no answer. As we drove away, we heard reports about the people being killed,” he said.

Meanwhile, National Freedom Party leader Zanele Magwaza-Msibi made a surprise appearance at the Marikana Commission of Inquiry yesterday morning.

The opposition party leader sat among the families of the 34 Lonmin miners who were killed.

“I’m here to offer support to the families of the deceased. Unfortunately I cannot be here for the whole week, I will leave this afternoon,” she said.

The commission continues.

 

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