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Marikana miner's words haunt bishop

Bishop Jo Seoka has lashed out at the North West top cop over her attitude towards Marikana violence.

Religious leaders wait to address miners at Lonmin's Marikana Mine. Picture: Andrea van Wyk/EWN.

RUSTENBURG - Bishop Jo Seoka has lashed out at North West Police Commissioner Zukiswa Mbombo for her "disrespectful" treatment of his bid to resolve the Marikana strike.

Seoka testified at the Farlam Commission of Inquiry on Wednesday, saying he was prevented from speaking to Lonmin miners just hours before the shooting which left 34 of them dead on 16 August.

The Anglican bishop, who was testifying on behalf of the miners, said he believed the issue could have been resolved if he had been allowed to speak once more to the miners before the shooting.

Seoka said Lonmin management refused to speak to the protesters about their wage demands - calling them criminals and murders - because they had killed two policemen and mine security guards.

He said his meeting with Mbombo was also unsuccessful.

"We tried to reason with them, but I realised that even though she [Mbombo] was present, she was not really there emotionally."

Seoka said once he was told to leave the mining town, he received a phone call from one of the protesters asking where he was, because the police had started shooting at them.

He said the protester's words, "Bishop where are you we are being killed by the police", haunted him because he knew he could have done more to prevent the tragedy.