Marikana commission: Morgue van arrived hours before 34 miners shot dead

2013-10-14 17:31

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New revelations emerged at the Marikana Commission of Inquiry as the police’s Colonel Duncan Scott continued his testimony.

Evidence leader Advocate Matthew Chaskalson grilled Scott today about four mortuary vehicles that were called to the scene hours before the shooting. He also grilled him about new notes that had been found.

“It appears that at some stage before 8.30 on the morning of the 16th (August last year, when 34 miners were shot dead by police) colonels Klassen and Madoda of the SA Police Service (SAPS) arranged for Phokeng mortuary to request four mortuary vehicles to come to Marikana,” Chaskalson said.

“But only one vehicle was sent, which arrived before any shootings took place.”

Chaskalson also asked Scott if the arrangement had been discussed at the security joint operations committee beforehand. Scott said he could not remember if it had.

It also emerged that particular notes were brought to the attention of the commission only in September, and they were kept out of the minutes of the meeting at the police’s joint operations centre.

These “late notes suggest that August 16 was D-day. They also suggest that if the miners did not leave voluntarily, SAPS would move to the tactical response phase,” Chaskalson said to the witness.

Scott could not answer why the minutes of the meetings, which took place on the day of the shooting did not contain any mention of an escalation of the threat posed by the miners, as this was the SAPS’s evidence.

Today’s revelations follow an earlier ruling by the South Gauteng High Court that Legal Aid SA fund the lawyers of the wounded and arrested miners at the Farlam commission.

The court found that Legal Aid’s decision to fund the lawyers of the families but not the miners “cannot be justified on any rational basis” and its refusal to provide funding to the miners was unlawful.

Speculation was rife that the wounded and arrested miners would return to the commission on Tuesday, and the Socio-Economic Rights Institute of SA, the group representing the families of the dead miners as well as the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union confirmed that they would be there.

Spokesperson for the department of justice, Mthunzi Mhaga, addressed reporters outside the commission today saying his department agreed with the ruling.

“The judge dismissed their application that the executive should compel Legal Aid to provide funding. This was our position all along,” said Mhaga.

He added that the Legal Aid board was still studying the judgment and would make a statement later.

The commission will resume tomorrow with Scott on the stand. He has been asked by Chaskalson to answer questions about what happened on the day of the shooting.

Legal aid spokesperson Mpho Phasha said his organisation was still reviewing the judgment and would comment at a later stage.

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