Marikana Mine Killings Witness Mr. X Gives Testimony at Inquiry

A witness to events that led to the killing of protesters at Lonmin Plc’s Marikana mine, known as Mr. X, appeared for the first time at a South African commission investigating the 2012 incident.

Police have sought protection of the witness’s identity and retired Judge Ian Farlam, chairman of the Marikana Commission of Inquiry, has ruled that his name or photograph mustn’t be revealed. The witness gave testimony by video link, the South African Press Association reported today.

The commission was appointed by President Jacob Zuma to investigate events on and leading up to Aug. 16, 2012, when police killed 34 protesters, according to its website. Police and security guards were among other victims killed earlier during a wildcat strike over pay.

Mr. X claims he was among protesting Marikana miners who underwent a ritual that included two traditional healers, known as sangomas. A day before the killings, the miners swallowed the ashes of sheep that had been burned alive, SAPA reported.

In a sworn statement, the witness told how the mineworkers attacked and killed two Lonmin security guards. Parts of the victims’ bodies were burned and the ashes swallowed by the killers in an act the sangomas told them would protect them from bullets and make them invisible to police, the news agency said. Mr. X has also described how he and other protesters attacked and killed two police officers and took their mobile phones and firearms.

The incidents at Marikana, northwest of Johannesburg, led to the deaths of about 44 people, with more than 70 injured, and some 250 arrests, according to the commission.

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