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Marikana: Ruling on Mr X identity next week

The commission will decide whether to protect the identity of the witness when he testifies.

The commission has been set up to establish what led to the shooting of 34 miners during a labour dispute at Lonmin's North West mine.

JOHANNESBURG - Retired Judge Ian Farlam this morning indicated he will rule next week on whether the Farlam Commission of Inquiry will protect a controversial witness's identity when he testifies about miners' muti rituals before the Marikana shooting in August 2012.

The commission has been asked to protect the identity of 'Mr X' because he will testify as a police witness.

The identity of the witness has never been revealed over security concerns.

Police have brought an application to put certain limitations on how the witness will testify.

Mr X was a protester during the Marikana shooting and is likely to implicate his fellow protesters, which could in turn lead to possible criminal prosecution.

The man is expected to testify about an apparent muti ritual a few days before the shooting, which the miners believed would make them invincible during their confrontation with the officers.

Mr X is also expected to make incriminating statements about how the protesters killed two Lonmin security officers in the days leading up to the shooting.

He will be the first witness called to support the police's argument that officers acted in self defence when they opened fire on protesters.

Police wants Mr X to testify in camera and that his identity not be revealed to the media or public.

Acting on behalf of the police, advocate Sesi Baloyi argued that Mr X's life would be put in danger once he testified against his fellow protesters.

But Farlam questioned this claim.

"If strikers already know who Mr X is, if he is telling the truth in other words, it's overwhelmingly possible they know who he is and what he looks like."

The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union, the victims' families and the injured protesters will oppose the police's application to allow Mr X to testify in camera.

The inquiry was set up by President Jacob Zuma to determine whether officers were justified in using lethal force on the day 34 miners were killed and 76 others injured by police in the North West mining town.

The deadly shooting took place on 16 August 2012.

Ten other people, including two policemen and two security guards, were killed in strike-related violence in the days leading up to the shooting.

The Marikana standoff has been described as the bloodiest shootout in post-apartheid South Africa.