Debate on Marikana witness identity

Mr X was a protester during the Marikana shooting and is likely to implicate his fellow protesters.

FILE: A congregation holds a prayer session at the scene of the Marikana shooting on 19 August 2012. Picture: EWN.

PRETORIA - The police's legal team has warned the Farlam Commission of Inquiry that witnesses will be reluctant to testify if the identity of a protester, known only as 'Mr X', is not kept confidential.

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 police say the man will give incriminating evidence showing that protesters planned to attack officers in the days leading up to the shooting on 16 August 2012.

Mr X is expected to testify how he and a group marched to the offices of the National Union of Mineworkers a few days before the shooting, armed with a plan to attack anyone found inside the building.

In a statement, he indicates that he provided money for the muti ritual which the miners believed would make them invincible during confrontation with police.

Mr X was also present when two Lonmin security guards were killed earlier that week.

The commission earlier heard their body parts were used for the production of the muti which was then smeared all over the protesters' bodies.

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

Earlier today advocate Sesi Baloyi, acting on behalf of the police, 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."

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

However, the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union, the victims' families and the injured protesters will oppose the police's application.

Farlam is expected to make his ruling on whether the inquiry will protect Mr X's identity next week.

Meanwhile, the legal team representing the arrested and injured Marikana miners has tried to discredit Mr X.

Advocate Dali Mpofu slated Mr X, saying he is a habitual liar.

Mpofu says Mr X himself is implicated in three murders and his testimony therefore cannot be trusted.

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.

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