Cop: There is a gap in Marikana video

2013-06-10 14:15
(Werner Beukes, Sapa)

(Werner Beukes, Sapa)

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Pretoria - There is a gap in the video footage taken at Marikana on 13 August last year and shown to the Farlam Commission of Inquiry, a senior police officer said on Monday.

North West deputy police chief Major General William Mpembe recalled the day striking Lonmin mineworkers turned on police and hacked two officers to death.

"There is a gap, the camera could not work from a distance," he told the commission in Centurion during his evidence-in-chief.

Police officers Tsietsi Monene and Sello Lepaku were hacked to death on 13 August as police escorted a group of about 200 strikers to a hill where more strikers had gathered.

Mpembe said the video camera used by police to shoot the footage was old.

Once the officer operating the camera started to move on foot to follow the mineworkers, a mechanical fault occurred and the video went blank.

The officer climbed into a police vehicle to continue recording.

Events during the gap

Commission chairperson, retired Judge Ian Farlam, questioned Mpembe on the timeframe of the gap as well as the events that unfolded during the gap.

"The movement of the people and also the shooting of a stun grenade [happened]," Mpembe replied.

He was not good at estimating time, but said the stun grenade and teargas were shot shortly after the disruption in the recording.

In the clip, the group of armed men are seen crouching as they walked, while clicking their weapons against each other and on the floor to make a noise, and ululating before they attacked the officers.

"One could not understand what was happening," said Mpembe, who is being led by Vuyani Ngalwana, for the police.

Ngalwana asked if Mpembe had ever heard ululating during a crowd management situation.

Mpembe responded: "No chairperson. The only experience I had was during the violence in Soweto that was prior to 1994... but people were not carrying such dangerous weapons or ululating."

He said he told officers at an earlier briefing that if the striking mineworkers crossed the police line, officers should allow them to do so because he did not want a confrontation.

Turning on police

While the strikers were headed to the hill a police officer fired teargas at them and the strikers then turned on police and hacked two of them to death. Another was injured.

"Chairperson, at that moment I did not give an order and I am not aware who gave the order [to fire the teargas]," said Mpembe.

The commission is probing the deaths of 44 people during an unprotected strike at Lonmin Platinum's mine in Marikana, North West, in August last year.

On 16 August, 34 striking mineworkers were shot dead and 78 were wounded when police fired on them while trying to disperse a group which had gathered on a hill near the mine.

Ten people, including the two police officers and two security guards, were killed near the mine in the preceding week.

The hearing continues.

Read more on:    lonmin  |  police  |  ian farlam  |  mahikeng

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