No senior officials at Marikana shootings – George Bizos

2014-01-13 16:37

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Human rights lawyer George Bizos says there were no senior officials present when lethal force was used in Marikana.

“As the command to shoot to kill was acted on, you coincidentally removed yourself from the scene,” he told Brigadier Adriaan Calitz at the Marikana Commission today.

This statement came as SAPS operations commander Calitz tried to explain why he was “wilfully blind and wilfully deaf” when protesting miners were shot and killed at koppies one and two.

Bizos said he had sat on many such commissions, including the inquiry into the deaths of nine people who were killed by police in Sebokeng in the early 90s.

“During these shootings, the person in charge always seems not to have been present at the time that lethal force was used,” he said.

This comes after Calitz testified that he did not hear or see any of the 295 bullets shot at the second scene where the largest number of miners were killed. He had earlier testified that he had left the first scene seconds before the fatal shooting.

The SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) also came out attacking Calitz’s testimony and his timeline of events of August 16 2012 in Marikana.

Michelle le Roux for the SAHRC played three videos in which journalists reported hearing shots being fired at the second scene in Marikana. She added that the SAHRC could infer and would submit to the commission that Calitz had several opportunities when he could have checked what was happening at both scenes but did not.

At 4pm, Brigadier Vermaak said there were 18 bodies down. Calitz said he thought it was men who were being arrested and did not think that the bodies were of those who had been fatally shot.

“If I had known earlier that scene one had existed, I would have given instructions and taken the necessary instructions,” he said.

He also testified that he did not hear the Tactical Response Team fire a volley of bullets at the first scene.

Le Roux questioned how he did not hear the shooting when he was a mere 150m from the scene and a number of doors of his Nyala were open.

“How could you not have heard the TRT members firing? You knew that TRT members had live ammunition but did not consider that the 18 bodies down were actually dead?” she asked.

Bizos said it could be inferred that this was a strategy by the SAPS for all the senior officers not to be at the critical scenes at the critical times so that the “foot soldiers or not so senior members” could say they were shooting in self-defence because there were no senior officials to give commands.

The commission will continue in Centurion tomorrow.

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