Report reaching our news desk indicates that at least 13 people were injured when gale force winds blew over a marquee in Gopane near Zeerust where President Jacob Zuma was delivering a Reconciliation Day speech on Friday.
According to North West police spokesperson Brigadier Sabata Mokgwabone: “The injured persons include two police officials, a local municipality mayor and a chief.”
A police source said that, of the 13 injured, four were admitted to hospital while the rest were treated and discharged.
The North West provincial government had earlier said no one was injured.
A storm wreaked havoc, uprooting the marquee tent in which the Reconciliation Day celebration was held, forcing Zuma to stop his speech as security personnel moved in to whisk him to safety.
Strong winds accompanied by rain blew over the tent at around 1pm, just as Zuma was outlining government’s intervention in Marikana following the killing of 44 people during a violent wildcat strike at Lonmin platinum mine operations in Marikana near Rustenburg in August 2012.
Thirty four mineworkers were killed by the police on August 16, 2012, while ten people, including two policemen and two security guards were killed a week before.
Zuma said among the actions being taken was the provision of housing by government and also the mining company in order to improve living conditions.
“Importantly, the issue of compensation, particularly for loss of support for the deceased families, for unlawful arrest and detentions, is being attended to. The South African Police Service is ready to pay.
“Government lawyers are working with the legal teams of the affected persons or families of the deceased to finalise the claims. We cannot bring those who died back. However, we can and must do our best to ensure that the lives of their children improve.”
He said other remedies included taking steps against all those, particularly within the police service, who were found to have committed criminality in the way they handled the situation at Marikana.