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Fri Jan 30 08:22:48 SAST 2015

Miners don't believe in muti, says bishop

Sapa | 14 November, 2012 15:39
Striking miners at Lonmin's Marikana mine. An earlier report said the miners visited a sangoma who sprinkled them with muti to make them invincible.
Image by: ALON SKUY/THE TIMES

Claims that protesters believed muti would protect them from being shot by police were unfounded, Reverend Johannes Seoka, Anglican bishop of Pretoria, told the Farlam Commission of Inquiry on Wednesday.

"(Claims about) the use of muti to protect workers against bullets... that's nonsense," he said.

"You are making black people (out) to be stupid. They are not stupid."

Seoka said he had worked in a rural area before, where soccer players indulged in muti before a match, but they knew that it could not prevent their team being defeated. It also did not prevent them from training.

"Most (of the miners) had been through school, they should know better. Muti does not protect them against bullets."

Rather, it was a tradition that most people were raised with.

"We are socialised to this kind of lifestyle," Seoka said.

Earlier on Wednesday, Lt-Col Duncan Scott showed video footage from, what he termed, "perceived rituals" performed by the protesters ahead of other violent confrontation with police, which left 34 miners dead after police opened fire on August 16.

Seoka said he believed these deaths could have been averted if Lonmin management had been willing to negotiate with the striking workers.

"For me, if Lonmin management had adopted a tolerant attitude and put bitterness... aside, the massacre that took place would have been prevented."

He felt police could have done more to facilitate this negotiation.

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