Marikana: Police commander doesn’t know who ordered 4 000 rounds of ammunition

2014-01-14 16:54

No one in the SA Police Service seems to know who decided that 4 000 rounds of live ammunition should be ordered before 34 miners were fatally shot on August 16 2012.

Human Rights lawyer George Bizos continued his cross-examination of operations commander Brigadier Adriaan Calitz at the Marikana Commission of Inquiry hearings today.

“I don’t know who ordered the ammunition,” Calitz said.

He also testified that he didn’t know who decided that the morgue vans were necessary on the day.

Bizos took him to task.

But Bizos kept questioning him. “How could you not have known who when you were the man in charge of operations and this would have fallen under your command? Who decided how many morgue vans would be necessary to carry corpses and how did you know that there would be so many corpses?”

Calitz stuck to his guns and repeated that he did not know.

The commission’s chair, retired Judge Ian Farlam, said it would be important to discover who gave the command to order the ammunition.

“Was it a single person who decided or was it the head of every team? Will the police please find out,” he said.

But evidence leader Matthew Chaskalson said asking the police to find out may not yield results because a statement submitted by the police’s Lieutenant-Colonel Joseph Merafe stated that it was Calitz who had given the command to order 4 000 rounds of ammunition.

“Now he’s denying it,” said Chaskalson.

Bizos also questioned the police’s version of events – that they shot the miners in self-defence. But 34 miners were killed and more than 80 were wounded, yet none of the police officers were injured.

“How could the police think that the miners who ran for refuge at the second scene, koppie three, were planning on launching an attack on them when the area they ran to was confined? The miners ran there to hide away from the onslaught of the police,” he argued.

Calitz said it was a possibility that the miners were running there to hide away from the police.

“Koppie three was the nearest place they could run to because the dispersal action was already in progress. But an attack could have been launched still,” he said.

Calitz testified that to his knowledge the miners “hiding” in koppie three – where more miners were shot dead – were not given a warning that police had surrounded the area and that they should come out and surrender their weapons.

Calitz said he stood by the speech he had made at a meeting on August 18 2012 in Potchefstroom – in which he said the events had gone 110% according to plan.

“The use of force was justifiable, it was in self-defence. Policemen told us they had been shot at and we also saw it on video. Everyone gave explanations why they used force,” Calitz said.

The hearings resume tomorrow.

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