Protesters threatened Marikana cops: Testimony

By Drum Digital
23 April 2013

Protesting Marikana mineworkers threatened the police and told them to move their barbed wire and Nyala vehicles hours before police shot at them, the Farlam Commission of Inquiry heard on Tuesday.

The protesters asked: "What is this wire doing here? It must be removed and we are not going to ask again," Maj-Gen Charl Annandale told the commission.

He headed the police special tactical operations team during the unrest in Marikana in August.

Annandale said the police deployed the barbed wire as a defence method.

"The intention was to create a physical and... psychological barrier to show that this is a no-go area. It is a method that's been used to successfully protect assets. Traditionally, people move away from it when they see it."

Annandale said negotiators used loud hailers to try and tell the protesters why the barbed wire was there. The police then heeded the protesters' call and moved their vehicles and barbed wire further back.

He said the police could not be allowed to mingle with the protesters, as this would cause confusion if the need to use stun grenades on the crowd arose.

Annandale was delivering his evidence-in-chief at the hearings, chaired by retired judge Ian Farlam, at the Rustenburg Civic Centre.

The commission is investigating the circumstances surrounding the deaths of 44 people -- 34 of whom the police shot dead, during wage-related unrest at Lonmin's platinum mine in Marikana in August.

Annandale said union leaders told the police protesters would lay down their weapons at 9am on the morning of August 16.

He said police realised this might not happen when the protesters took their weapons with them to a hill near the mine that morning.

"They could have left their weapons at home," he said.

The commission continues.

-by Sapa

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