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'Armed miners not necessarily violent'

Amcu’s Joseph Mathunjwa said he did not encourage the miners to carry weapons.

The Marikana inquiry heard on Tuesday that armed miners in Marikana weren’t violent because they had weapons.

RUSTENBURG - The Marikana Commission of Inquiry on Tuesday heard miners could not be classified as violent just because they were carrying traditional weapons.

Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) president Joseph Mathunjwa made the comments during cross-examination at the Rustenburg Civic Centre.

He has been testifying about his role in the days leading up to the August 16 bloodbath at Lonmin's Marikana mine.

At least 34 people were killed and 78 others injured when police opened fire on protesters during a wage strike in the North West mining town.

Workers were demanding a minimum wage of R12,500.

Mathunjwa came under fire not properly condemning the armed protest.

Advocate Dumisa Ntsebeza, who is representing the families of the victims, said Mathunjwa's statement showed that not everyone saw the armed miners as dangerous.

"The mere that people are armed with assegais and spears is no indication that they are violent people."

Earlier, Mathunjwa said he did not encourage the miners to carry weapons, but understood that it was part of their culture.

Both Amcu and the National Union of Mineworkers blamed each other for the over month-long violence.