Inquiry hears about first eight seconds ‘volley of shots’

2012-11-09 12:41

The fatal shooting of striking mineworkers at Marikana started with an eight second burst of gunfire, the Farlam Commission has heard in Rustenburg.

“The shooting was called off by members of the (police’s) TRT (tactical response team), who could see the shooting was no longer necessary,” said officer Duncan Scott.

He used video footage captured by various news crews to support his narration.

Thirty-four striking mineworkers were killed and 78 wounded when police fired while trying to disperse a group encamped on a hill near Lonmin’s platinum mine in Marikana on August 16.

“When they were attacked by the armed protesters, police officers started retreating while firing towards the ground to ward off the attackers,” said Scott.

The videos showed attacking strikers dropping to the ground when they were hit by bullets. After an initial, eight second volley of shots, police began to shout “ceasefire, ceasefire”. Some raised clenched fists.

Earlier, Scott told the commission that strikers tried to breach the police line three times.

Police rolled out barbed wire to protect their support staff and the media.

On the video, a man in a group of mineworkers approaching the police line is shown firing at police with a handgun.

Scott told the commission two pistols were later recovered from the protesters.

One of them had been linked to a policeman who was robbed and hacked to death on August 13.

Scott said after the shooting, the mineworkers retreated and camped behind two nearby hills where they started fires.

He said police tactical teams, including the national intervention unit, swept the hills in pursuit.

A woman in the public gallery broke down wailing as Scott presented his evidence while the video was being shown.

Commission chairman, retired judge Ian Farlam, adjourned the hearing.

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