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Marikana: NUM president testifies

NUM’s president has reminded the commission what it has done for minesworkers in SA.

Protesters from Lonmin's Marikana Mine carried traditional weapons as they demonstrated, demanding better wages. Picture: Taurai Maduna/EWN

MARIKANA - President of the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) Senzeni Zokwana on Thursday defended his union by describing what it has done for mineworkers in this country.

Zokwana is testifying at the Marikana Commission of Inquiry about his unions role in the days leading up to the violence which lead to the deaths of 34 mineworkers.

Miners went on an unprotected strike and were demanding a monthly salary of R12,500.

More than 44 people including police officers lost their lives during the violent industrial action.

Over the past few days, NUM has been criticised for not doing enough to stop the violence in Marikana.

It has been described as a union that does not care about its members.

Zokwana said NUM has given mineworkers human dignity by fighting for their rights.

"Things are changing. Things have changed."

The commission heard the union may have instigated the violence in Marikana during an attack on the union offices days before the shooting.

On Tuesday, the Marikana Commission of Inquiry dismissed claims by a British news channel that certain police footage had been recently discovered or that it undermined claims that officers acted in self defence.

Channel 4 news broadcasted footage taken from two officer's cellphones showing scenes from the violence that erupted.

Commissioner Ian Farlam said the footage was not new.

"The video footage was provided to the commission by the South African Police Service (SAPS) without compulsion on 21 November last year."

The UK news station said the officers talking in the video describe how they shot a particular miner, 10 times.

Farlam said it was premature to draw conclusions.

The officers who took the video have not yet testified at the inquiry.

The commission was set up by President Jacob Zuma following the incident.