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22 March 2017
MARIKANA MASSACRE - THE COVER UP CONTINUES
For people who didn't join the struggle to be stupid
It’s been four-and-a-half years since the
Marikana Massacre. This weekend the sons of one of the mineworkers,
Modisaotsile Van Wyk Sagalala, found out how their father allegedly
died. By GREG NICOLSON.
No one knows exactly when
Modisaotsile Van Wyk Sagalala died. The 60-year-old was shot twice by
police on 16 August 2012, at Marikana’s deadly “scene two”. The
circumstances were never fully explained.
Sagalala was the sole breadwinner for his mother
and two sons, Hendrik and David. Preparing for retirement, he had
started building his dream home.
“I want to see where my father died and how he
died,” his son, David Sagalala, told the Marikana Commission of Inquiry.
“I want those responsible for his death to be arrested and brought to
justice because everyone who breaks the law must be held accountable.”
According to police, Sagalala was one of three
people who died in hospital, but four-and-a-half years after the
Marikana Massacre evidence has emerged that he died in a police vehicle
at a detention centre, and multiple police officers lied to cover-up the
circumstances of his death.
The Independent Police Investigative Directorate
(IPID) has been investigating SAPS officials since the 2015 release of
retired Judge Ian Farlam’s Marikana Inquiry report. IPID spokesperson
Moses Dlamini told Daily Maverick, “IPID has evidence to prove
that the deceased died in the police canter at the detention centre.” He
added, “The matter was never revealed during the Farlam Judicial
Commission of Inquiry.”
The Marikana report said it was
not possible to ascertain the precise location where Sagalala was shot,
but it was somewhere at “scene two”, dubbed the “killing koppie”.
Describing the shooting of Sagalala and another striker, Molefi Osiel
Ntsoele, lawyers for the families of the deceased mineworkers told the
commission “there is simply no information about how they were killed.
It isn’t even known where in koppie three they were shot and killed. The
only reasonable conclusion therefore is that they were killed
The commission believed SAPS’s claim Sagalala
died at the Andrew Saffy Memorial Hospital. IPID, however, has evidence
he died while being transported to a detention centre. Dlamini said
there are photographs, observation book entries, and statements from
SAPS members deployed to the detention centre “and they concur that
indeed the victim died in the police canter at the detention centre.”
The first reports of the alleged crimes came in an update from the Presidency last year and IPID outlined aspects of the allegations in Parliament last week.
The crime scene at the detention centre was never
reported to IPID, which has recommended prosecutions should proceed for
cases of non-compliance and defeating the ends of justice. The
investigation is complete and IPID has recommended charges be laid
against the four officials responsible for managing the detention
centre: Major General William Mpembe, Brigadier Jacobus Van Zyl, and two
other suspects we only know as Colonel Madoda, and Lieutenant-Colonel
Daily Maverick was unable to get further
comment before deadline from Dlamini on whether Sagalala’s death could
have been avoided if he received timely medical care and why cases of
culpable homicide haven’t been opened.
Statements given by striking mineworkers to IPID, which Daily Maverick has seen, include graphic details that likely refer to Sagalala:
“We were then put in the police truck and inside
the truck there was an African male who was shot on his chest and was
bleeding. We told the police that someone was shot but they said that he
must die because we also killed the police,” reads one statement.
“One guy was shot in the chest and was put in the
truck while injured. I notified the police that there is a person who
needs help as he is injured. The police officers said he is fine, let
him die,” reads another.
Yet another: “We also reported to the police
officers that there was a person who will die. They never listen to us.
On arrival at B3 that person passed away.” B3 is a part of mining
company Lonmin’s facilities in Marikana where arrested miners were
initially detained and processed before they were taken to police
Dlamini said it’s still unclear how Sagalala
ended up at Andrew Saffy Memorial Hospital, but his body was collected
there by the Phokeng government mortuary and given the designation “body
33”. A total of 34 people were killed by police on 16 August, with 10
people killed in the preceding week, seven killed by the striking
mineworkers and three by police.
The Sagalala family first heard about IPID’s case this weekend:
“The family wants the whole truth to come out and
for justice to be done,” said Hendrik Sagalala, Modisaotsile Van Wyk
Sagalala’s son. “The commission of inquiry process did not go far enough
in investigating the circumstances of my father’s death. Almost five
years after, we still don’t see any justice and we cannot find closure.”
Representing the families of the deceased
mineworkers, Socio-Economic Rights Institute (SERI) attorney Keamogetswe
“The contempt and indignity with which the criminal justice system has treated the Marikana victims is appalling.”
The commission of inquiry sat for over 300 days
and the Claassen Board of Inquiry was established to investigate
suspended National Police Commissioner Riah Phiyega’s role regarding
Marikana, but families are yet to see any real accountability.
“We have written to IPID and the NPA, on
instructions from the families, inquiring about criminal investigations
and prosecutions against the police. It is the loved ones of these
families who were killed,” said Thobakgale, claiming neither institution
has been forthcoming with information.
The SAPS was criticised for failing to disclose
certain information to the Marikana Commission of Inquiry and the Farlam
report even has a section titled, “The consequences of the SAPS attempt
to mislead the Commission”. In 2012, before the commission, police met
in Potchefstroom to prepare for the inquiry. Evidence leaders called the
meeting an “exculpatory exercise” and claimed “there is a complete
absence of any self-criticism in Exhibit L” – the police version of
events drafted at the Potchefstroom meeting and presented at the
inquiry. The Farlam report said the police leaders decided to mislead
the commission by not revealing when the decision to “go tactical” came
about and national and provincial SAPS leaders signed off on Exhibit L,
which did not offer a truthful version of the events.
SAPS spokesperson Brigadier Sally de Beer on
Monday was brief in her response to the claims stemming from IPID’s
investigation. “The department respects the mandate of IPID to conduct
investigations. We are awaiting the outcome of IPID’s investigations
into this matter which will inform internal processes as provided for in
our disciplinary code,” she said.
National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) spokesperson
Luvuyo Mfaku on Monday said prosecutors are still analysing and
evaluating evidence regarding the Sagalala case:
“No decision has been taken to prosecute any person(s) in relation to the Farlam Commission report.”
Sagalala’s death in custody also raises the issue
of timeous medical treatment. Mineworker Bongani Mdze died during the
massacre after suffering shotgun wounds to his upper arm (it’s still
unknown who fired the shotgun rounds at the miners, as SAPS had
previously withdrawn the ammunition from operational use). Mdze had a 90
percent chance of survival if police applied a basic tourniquet.
Literally, a sock could have saved his life. Instead, he bled to death.
The commission recommended future SAPS operations should ensure those
injured receive adequate and speedy first aid. Sagalala’s case suggests
another life might have been saved if police provided rapid medical
This week SERI is embarking on a campaign to
raise awareness about the slow progress on behalf the state and Lonmin
in ensuring justice for the families of those killed and the injured and
arrested mineworkers. On Human Rights Day, the group will launch a video
and throughout its campaign will call for a genuine apology from the
state and Lonmin, for police officers involved in the Marikana operation
to be criminally charged, and for victims to be paid compensation. DM
Photo: Lonmin employees gather on a hill
called Wonderkop at Marikana, August 15, 2012. Photograph Greg
Marinovich / Daily Maverick