NEWS

Marikana Support Campaign Wants Activist Released

Forum says Napoleon Webster and others were tortured by police

07/02/2017 20:45 SAST | Updated 07/02/2017 21:31 SAST
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A remembrance cross made of flowers is seen during last year's commemoration of the 2012 Marikana massacre in Rustenburg. August 16, 2016 marks 4 years since 34 miners were killed during a wage increase protest at Lonmin mine. (Felix Dlangamandla/Beeld/Gallo)

The Marikana Support Campaign on Tuesday called for the release of a local activist who is accused of murder.

Napoleon Webster and five accused appeared in the Bafokeng Magistrate's Court on Tuesday to apply for bail. The matter was postponed to Thursday, forum spokesperson Nigel Branken said.

Webster, who chairs the Marikana Unemployment Forum, and five people who worked at Lonmin's platinum mine in Marikana, North West, were arrested following a murder on December 8 2016.

"We want charges to be withdrawn, because he was not even present at the time of the murder. We believe activists are being targeted by the police," Branken said.

Branken claims Webster was at a local Shoprite with four students and a journalist at the time of the murder. He said police allegedly tortured him after his arrest.

"He [Webster] said that during the torture not one question that was asked had to do with the murder, but rather that all the questions asked were focused on his community activism and in particular on his housing rights activism."

Another of the accused, Audrey Seitsang, urinated blood for two weeks as a result of the electric shocks to his genitals, Branken said.

"The court on four occasions has ordered the police to assist the accused to open charges of assault, to be given medical attention and to be taken to the district surgeon for medical forensic recording of their injuries." He said to date police had not complied with this order.

During the Farlam Commission of Inquiry, Webster led the chant of "blood on his hands" when Deputy President and then Lonmin board member Cyril Ramaphosa appeared to give evidence in August 2014.

According to Branken, Webster was arrested after Seitsang signed a statement claiming he was with him at the time of the murder. "Seitsang has subsequently said that the statement was obtained under torture and that Napoleon was not there."

Hawks spokesperson Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi said the matter had been referred to the unit and was still under investigation. He said he could not disclose any information about the murder.

"All the people that have been arrested are the people they have identified and who need to answer to court. If the person is innocent then they must prove that to court. It's the responsibility of the accused to prove that they are not guilty."

He said they could not release Webster on the basis of claims made by some people. "There are victims involved in this matter and we cannot take sides." – News24