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'Num officials went into hiding'

The Farlam Commission of Inquiry heard that Num officials went into hiding after being attacked.

Protesters await instruction from their leaders, at Lonmin's Marikana mine. Picture: Taurai Maduna/EWN

MARIKANA - National Union of Mineworkers (Num) President Senzeni Zokwana on Tuesday said union officials went into hiding after being attacked by Marikana protesters.

He made the comments while being cross-examined at the Farlam Commission of Inquiry in Rustenburg.

The hearing was set up by President Jacob Zuma shortly after 34 miners were gunned down by police at the North West mine on August 16.

The inquiry is looking at Num's role in the days leading up to the Lonmin bloodbath.

Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU)'s lawyer Heidi Barnes said Num officials did not get to report back on the attack at their offices or what the wage issue was all about.

Zokwana maintained the situation was volatile and branch leaders at Lonmin had been threatened.

"Our branch committee members were in hiding. People had been killed already."

Zokwana was questioned about why Num did not intervene to stop the illegal strike.

Miners who were part of the protests are expected to testify next.

Last week, the police's legal team argued that Num was aware of wage demands as early as July 2012.

Advocate Ishmael Semenya, who is representing the police, said rock drill operators had started demanding a R12,500 salary in July, a month before the deadly strike.

Zokwana said they could not negotiate without a mandate from their members and that the union was excluded from this process.

On Thursday, Zokwana defended his union by reminding the commission of what it has done for mineworkers.

He said Num has given workers human dignity by fighting for their rights for many years.