Marikana: Where were the cops?

2012-11-20 12:46

Questions have been raised as to why police were not present at the scene where two security guards were hacked, shot and set alight by a mob of striking Lonmin miners on August 12.

The Marikana Commission of Inquiry today saw CCTV footage of a huge crowd of miners gathered on a road near the Wonderkop hostel.

The footage was from a Lonmin camera.

It captures miners running down the street, while in the background black smoke billows through the air.

Evidence leaders said the smoke came from the burning vehicles in which security guards Hassan Fundi and Frans Mabelane were travelling.

Both were killed on the scene, three days after more than 3 000 rock drill operators went on strike to demand a minimum wage of R12 500.

The CCTV camera did not capture the incident in which they were killed. However, it shows at some stage thousands of men crouching along the road as if in attack formation.

One of them is seen running from the sight of the smoke to the middle of the road carrying what appears to be a firearm.

Evidence leaders confirmed that it was indeed a pistol pilfered from one of the slain security guards, but Advocate Dumisa Ntsebeza seemed to have doubts when he asked if that was really a firearm.

Yesterday, Tshepiso Ramphele, an attorney representing the families of the slain security guards, asked police training co-ordinator Brigadier Johannes Petrus Breytenbach during cross examination, why police had not adhered to an order from provincial police heads issued when the strike broke out.

Ramphele said North West police had issued “a contingency plan of what should have happened, was that crime prevention and public order policing units be deployed in the Marikana area”.

He said the instruction entailed that police units “be maintained in the area of Marikana, along the route to Eastern Platinum mine, and Western Platinum mine before, during and after the strike”.

Breytenbach said the failure to obey this order had nothing to with training and indicated that he was not the right person to answer the question.

Questions have also been raised as to why only four security guards, which included Mabelane and Fundi, were sent to deal with an armed mob of more than 3 000 protesters.

The commission saw footage shot by Lonmin security and police officers, which captures the early protests of the strike which later deteriorated into violence.

The inquiry continues.

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