Cop divisions 'botched' Marikana plan

2013-05-08 21:03
(Picture: Sapa)

(Picture: Sapa)

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Rustenburg - The divisions among police officers deployed to Marikana during a wage strike at Lonmin influenced the outcome of the unrest, the Farlam Commission heard on Wednesday.

Dali Mpofu, for the arrested and injured miners, said allegations that some officers threatened North West deputy police commissioner Major General William Mpembe following the killing of their colleagues would have affected the way they conducted their duties.

The officers blamed Mpembe for the deaths of their colleagues.

"We had people there with machine-guns who were threatening to kill each other... We can't say that wasn't a factor in the incident," said Mpofu.

On Tuesday the commission heard that, according to a statement from Lieutenant Colonel Solomon Vermaak, the threats against Mpembe were made on 13 August, 2012.

The policemen allegedly said Mpembe would lie down and die with the officers the striking mineworkers had hacked to death.

Mpofu was cross-examining Major General Charl Annandale, who headed the police's tactical operations team during the Marikana unrest.

Annandale said while he was aware of the threats, there were no divisions in the police team.

The commission is investigating the events that led to the killing of 44 people during the wage-related unrest at Lonmin's platinum mine in Marikana.

Police shot dead 34 striking mineworkers on 16 August. Ten people, including the two police officers, were killed in the preceding week. Seventy-six people were injured and 259 arrested.

Mpofu asked Annandale how many of those arrested were linked to the weapons found on the scene. Annandale said he was not sure as he was not there when the arrests were made.

Mpofu asked Annandale how police decided on the quantity of ammunition and equipment to be brought in to disperse striking workers.

"Certain factors were considered. We looked at the risk factors, potential danger. We reviewed previous unrests, the geography, and how many armed people there were," said Annandale.

The commission heard how, according to a statement from Brigadier Adriaan Calitz, police dealt with around 3 000 armed protesters.

Annandale told the commission he believed a smaller group of around 500 people would cause problems for the police. He said they had hoped the larger group of around 3 000 people would disperse.

Frenzy

Earlier, Mpofu told Annandale that police shot dead striking mineworkers out of revenge.

"The reason why there was this frenzy and you drove all the way from Pretoria uninvited was sparked by the killing of the two policemen," said Mpofu.

"Some of the actions were prompted... by revenge."

He questioned why more police officials from other provinces were only deployed to the Marikana after the policemen were killed.

Annandale denied Mpofu's submission.

"There was no frenzy... I went to Marikana to acquaint myself with the situation and to find out what resources were needed," said Annandale.

"The provincial commissioner asked me to stay on. It was later confirmed by the national police commissioner that I should stay and assist with these problems.

"[The deployment of more officers] was not a result of the two policemen's deaths. It was as a result of the escalation of the violence and the death of five people," he said.

Earlier, about 15 people protested outside the Rustenburg Civic Centre where the public hearings are being held.

The group, who identified themselves as local residents, said they were protesting against the proposed move of the commission from Rustenburg to Pretoria.

They displayed placards stating: "Enquiry must stay in Rustenburg" and "Nothing about us, without us".

Most of the lawyers involved in the commission are calling for the commission to be moved to Pretoria, saying it was expensive for them to travel to Rustenburg weekly.

Legal representatives of the Bapo Ba Mogale community were opposing the move.

Oral arguments on the matter were heard two weeks ago. Commission chairman, retired Judge Ian Farlam, would consult with Justice Minister Jeff Radebe before deciding on the outcome.

Read more on:    police  |  dali mpofu  |  mahikeng  |  mining unrest

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