Marikana fam­i­lies lost in trans­la­tion at in­quiry hear­ings

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - NEWS - JON­ISAYI MAROMO

SOME fam­i­lies of de­ceased Marikana minework­ers were prej­u­diced at the Far­lam Com­mis­sion of In­quiry as they did not un­der­stand Afrikaans, a lawyer said yes­ter­day.

Du­misa Nt­se­beza SC, for the fam­i­lies, brought the com­plaint shortly af­ter the in­quiry re­sumed its pub­lic hear­ings yes­ter­day.

It was prompted by the fact that po­lice Bri­gadier Adriaan Calitz tes­ti­fied ex­clu­sively in Afrikaans.

“I did not have a prob­lem with trans­la­tion… I have been ap­proached by the fam­i­lies from Le­sotho, who are say­ing that be­cause the Bri­gadier is in­sist­ing on speak­ing in Afrikaans, which ap­par­ently is his con­sti­tu­tional right, Se­sotho has been elim­i­nated com­pletely,” Nt­se­beza said.

“There are three chan­nels of trans­la­tion used at the com­mis­sion – and the Bri­gadier is speak­ing in Afrikaans, then there is a trans­la­tion to English and another trans­la­tion from English to IsiXhosa.”

Some of the fam­i­lies had been prej­u­diced, con­tended Nt­se­beza, say­ing five fam­i­lies had raised the com­plaint.

The com­mis­sion chair­man, re­tired judge Ian Far­lam, then trans­lated Calitz’s brief tes­ti­mony.

“He was telling us about the ex­pe­ri­ence he has had, which he re­ferred to yes­ter­day about a ri­otous in­ci­dent. He par­tic­u­larly told us about an in­ci­dent in May last year when there was a strike and there was dis­or­der,” Far­lam said. “Po­lice ran out of bul­lets in the in­ci­dent.”

Far­lam said per­haps ar­range­ments would be made to cater for the Se­sotho-speak­ing fam­i­lies next week.

“We will see what we can do, if it’s pos­si­ble to do some­thing. We may pro­vide for a third trans­la­tion ser­vice just for those five peo­ple, I am not sure whether we can do that,” he said.

“We may have to re­sort to trans­lat­ing the tran­script to them when it be­comes avail­able.”

Head of the ev­i­dence lead­ers, Ge­off Budlen­der, said trans­la­tors at the com­mis­sion had com­plained that Calitz, apart from an­swer­ing quickly to the ques­tions, also spoke too quickly.

Yes­ter­day some peo­ple in the au­di­to­rium were dressed in Julius Ma- lema’s Eco­nomic Free­dom Fight­ers party re­galia.

In May, the com­mis­sion heard that Calitz gave the or­der for po­lice to “en­gage” the strik­ing Marikana min­ers in Au­gust last year.

A video clip taken from a he­li­copter that Calitz was in dur­ing the po­lice’s dis­per­sal op­er­a­tion at Marikana was played for the com­mis­sion.

“Get out there and en­gage,” Calitz is heard say­ing on the clip.

Calitz was one of the com­man­ders as­signed to the Marikana op­er­a­tion.

Another po­lice of­fi­cer, Ma­jor-Gen­eral Charl An­nan­dale, who was un­der cross-ex­am­i­na­tion at the time, con­firmed that Calitz’s voice was au­di­ble in the clip.

“That was Papa one, Bri­gadier Calitz,” said An­nan­dale.

An­nan­dale headed the po­lice tac­ti­cal re­sponse team dur­ing the wa­gere­lated un­rest at Lon­min’s plat­inum min­ing op­er­a­tions at Marikana, near Rusten­burg in North West last year.

He said he was at the joint op­er­a­tions cen­tre lis­ten­ing to the po­lice ra­dio when the in­struc­tion was given.

The three-mem­ber com­mis­sion is hold­ing pub­lic hear­ings in Cen­tu­rion. The other com­mis­sion­ers are se­nior ad­vo­cates Ban­tubonke Tokota and Pingla Hem­raj.

Thirty-four, mostly strik­ing min­ers, were shot dead on Au­gust 16, last year. In the pre­ced­ing week, 10 peo­ple were killed near the mine. – Sapa

IN­TER­PRETER: Judge Ian Far­lam had to step in and trans­late.

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