Cop didn't record Marikana shooting

2012-10-23 22:34
Police helicopter (Picture: Sapa)

Police helicopter (Picture: Sapa)

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Rustenburg - A crime scene technician took no video footage of the fatal mine shooting in Marikana, North West, although he had been instructed to do so from a helicopter.

This was the testimony of Lieutenant Colonel Johannes Cornelius Botha on Tuesday before the Farlam commission of inquiry investigating the 16 August shootings.

Botha was questioned over his statement that he had not captured any moment where police were shooting at the protesting mineworkers.

Botha told the commission, chaired by retired judge Ian Farlam, that he was told to get into the helicopter and film a police operation. He did not know what the operation was.

Farlam said the video was meant to be of the operation, but Botha did not get there in time. Botha agreed.

"A major part of the operation was already over by the time you started recording?" Farlam asked.

Botha affirmed this.

"So the purpose for getting you there failed?" asked Farlam.

Again Botha agreed.

Human rights advocate George Bizos, representing the families of the miners killed, asked Botha: "Did you record any shooting? You told us you went into the air when the first shooting had happened.

Did you then record the second shooting?"

Botha replied: "I only knew about the second shooting when I got to the ground. I did not see the shooting when it happened."

Bizos wanted to know if his footage showed any shooting.

"I did not see any shooting at all," he replied.

This prompted Bizos to ask: "Would you agree, if I put it bluntly, that on this momentous occasion in South Africa's history, where 35 people were killed, a colonel in the employ of the police was on a helicopter when this was happening, his job was to film, but he managed to avoid filming people being killed?"

Botha said he would not agree with that.

"I was not the one flying the chopper. I filmed what I saw on the ground."

Bizos persisted: "Would you agree that you failed to record that bit of South African history? What was the rank of the other officer sitting next to you in the helicopter?"

Botha responded: "He was a brigadier. I do not remember what he was talking about."

A brigadier is more senior in rank than a lieutenant colonel.

Bizos asked Botha if the brigadier was giving orders to people on the ground. He asked about the "subject matter" of the brigadier's communication.

Botha said he could not recall what the brigadier was talking about on the police radio.

Bizos asked: "Okay, that brigadier you were with in the helicopter, was he as ignorant as you?"

The commission was postponed to Monday.

- SAPA
Read more on:    ian farlam  |  george bizos  |  mahikeng  |  mining unrest  |  marikana inquiry  |  mining
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