Cops deny 'channelling' Marikana miners

2014-01-29 13:56
(Picture: AFP)

(Picture: AFP)

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Pretoria - The police never planned to channel striking miners towards the place where they were shot in Marikana in 2012, the Farlam Commission of Inquiry heard on Wednesday.

Advocate Ishmael Semenya, representing the police at the inquiry, re-examined police officer Brigadier Adriaan Calitz at the inquiry's public hearings in Pretoria.

"I need to explore this area with you because a theory has been given that the channelling of the strikers to the TRT [tactical response team] officers was either by design or default," said Semenya.

"The plan that was being perfected by Colonel [Duncan] Scott, does it or does it not have any channelling of strikers to the TRT line? Do you know if that was part of the police plan for the 16th [August 2012]?"

Calitz said there were "totally no such plans".

"If it was the plan, it would have been a very important discussion at the police JOCCOM [joint operational co-ordinating committee] meeting. It was never discussed," he said.

Calitz was the operational police commander during the protracted violent strike at Marikana, near Rustenburg.

The three-member commission, led by retired Judge Ian Farlam, is probing the deaths of 44 people during the wage-related protests in Marikana.

Marikana shooting

On 16 August 2012, 34 people, mostly striking miners, were shot dead and 78 people were wounded when the police fired on a group gathered at a hill near the mine. They were trying to disperse and disarm them.

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

Earlier this month, Advocate Dali Mpofu, for wounded and arrested Marikana miners at the inquiry, said when his clients were escaping from a hill in Marikana before the shootings, they did not know that they were heading straight into the elite police unit's line.

He said the protesters were simply heading to the nearby Nkaneng informal settlement, not heading to attack the police. He said his clients' view was obscured by Nyala police vehicles.

"My point is that the reason why the view between the approaching strikers and the tactical response team's line was obscured is because of those Nyalas that were in front of them. The Nyalas subsequently made way," said Mpofu.

"The shooting happened almost immediately after one of the Nyalas cleared the way and the volley of bullets came. It's like there is a Nyala, and they [protesters] are coming. It opens the way, and they get shot."

- SAPA
Read more on:    lonmin  |  police  |  ian farlam  |  ishmael semenya  |  dali mpofu  |  marikana inquiry
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