Bizos queries top cop absence at Marikana

2014-03-27 13:04
George Bizos (Picture: AFP)

George Bizos (Picture: AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Pretoria - Senior police officers should have led from the front when police moved to confront striking Lonmin miners at Marikana, the Farlam Commission of Inquiry heard on Thursday.

George Bizos, for the Legal Resources Centre, was cross-examining North West air wing commander Lieutenant Colonel Salmon Vermaak on the 2012 Marikana shootings.

"Is it a coincidence that none of the senior officers were around on the afternoon of 16 August near scene one in order to try and control the situation? Was there a deliberate absence by every senior officer in order to avoid responsibility?" Bizos asked.

Vermaak said he could not comment.

"I was in the air the whole day. Where the senior people where, I do not know," he said.

At that stage, commission chairperson retired Judge Ian Farlam, intervened and asked Vermaak to answer according to his vast experience in the police public order policing unit (POP).

"There must have been other similar operations where there were large numbers of protesters who attracted the attention of the POP. I take it in such operations there should be continuous communication between an operational commander and the joint operations centre [JOC] and that didn't happen.

"The criticism being put to you by Mr Bizos, would you say it is well-founded, or is it unfair to criticise the senior officers for staying at the JOC? Was it their role to stay at the JOC?" Farlam asked.

Vermaak said the operation's overall commander should stay in the JOC and co-ordinate the flow of information on the advancing officers.

‘Explosive situation’

Unconvinced, Bizos went on: "I am going to suggest to you that common sense - where you have a volatile situation and a decision which had been taken beforehand saying there would be the use of force, which inevitably led to the loss of life, a senior officer should have been there to control the situation".

Vermaak said in an "explosive situation" like Marikana, one could not predict events.

"If the overall commander is in the JOC and a situation arises on the ground which compels members to act in self-defence, it means there won't be time to contact the overall commander first to say 'should I act?'

"If any action is taken it will be explained afterwards," said Vermaak.

Bizos said he would submit that "most commanders of the Marikana operation were deliberately absent" at the critical moments on 16 August 2012.

That day, police shot dead 34 people, mostly protesting miners, at Lonmin's platinum mining operations at Marikana, near Rustenburg, North West.

At least 78 others were wounded when police fired on a group gathered at a hill near the mine while trying to disarm and disperse them.

In the preceding week, 10 people, including two policemen and two security guards, were killed in the strike-related violence.

The commission is probing the 44 deaths.

Read more on:    lonmin  |  police  |  ian farlam  |  george bizos  |  pretoria  |  marikana inquiry
NEXT ON NEWS24X

SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
8 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining

Inside News24

 
SPONSORED CONTENT
4 real car inventions that seem like science fiction

Vehicle design and tech have come so far so fast, that what seemed impossible has become reality. These are some of the fun and exciting innovations that have found their way into vehicle tech.

/News
 

10 most expensive cars In the world

This is car porn at its best!

 
 

Luxury living

Seven of the most expensive children's toys ever made
5 millionaires turned murderers
The youngest billionaires in the world and how they made it
Watch: Flying first class has never been this luxurious!
Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

There is a restless need for action and you may go overboard and fill your day with too many things in the need to be recognised...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.