Expert: Deadly force must be reasonable

2012-12-13 08:39
Marikana strikers

Marikana strikers

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

Rustenburg - The use of deadly force in public order policing needed to be reasonable in the circumstances, the Farlam Commission heard on Wednesday.

Police expert Brigadier Zephania Mkhwanazi said: "It must be proportional to (the) threat, reasonable to the circumstances (and) cease as soon as the goal has been achieved."

He was testifying about the principles governing the use of deadly force for public order policing at the Commission of Inquiry into the violence surrounding a strike at Lonmin's Marikana mine in August.

Mkhwanazi said he was not involved in the events nor in planning the operation that ultimately led to the deaths of 34 protesters on August 16.

As such, any opinion he gave on these would be speculation. He would not be drawn into answering questions on this aspect, as he felt it would be "unfair" to criticise the police's plan with the benefit of hindsight.

Compulsory study in future

Commission chairperson Ian Farlam said he believed the plan used on that day, and how it went wrong, should be a part of the syllabus for future public order policing training.

This could help to avoid repetition of the mistakes that led to the deaths.

"I suggest it would be a compulsory study in future for all undertaking your training," Farlam told Mkhwanazi.

Earlier, the cross-examination of Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) president Joseph Mathunjwa was completed.

Mathunjwa said that he felt as if he were a laughing stock for pleading with striking miners ahead of the shootings on August 16.

"For me it was to quell the situation... but at the end of the day I was a laughing stock for kneeling before those workers," Mathunjwa said.

He addressed workers gathered at a hill near Lonmin's platinum mine in Marikana, North West, on August 16, after being refused a police escort, he said.

He implicitly asked them to leave the hill in an attempt to prevent further bloodshed. By then, 10 people, including two policemen and two security guards, had already been killed in violence related to the strike at the mine.

Farlam commends Mathunjwa

Later that day, 34 miners were killed and 78 were wounded when police opened fire on them while trying to disperse the group on the koppie.

Farlam commended Mathunjwa for trying to intervene.

"I hope you didn't really get the impression that you were a laughing stock," he said.

"You made a genuine, sincere effort to persuade people to avoid a massacre. It will be to your eternal credit," Farlam said.

Mathunjwa also testified that he had tried to soften the news, that Lonmin was not prepared to engage with protesters at the koppie, by implicitly asking them to leave the area.

He said he wanted to give them hope that the situation could be resolved differently.

Most strikers non-unionised

The commission heard from Amcu representative Tim Bruinders that the union comprised only about 35% of protesters on the hill.

National Union of Mineworkers members formed about half, and the rest of the protesters were non-unionised members.

In the morning session, Dali Mpofu, for the injured and arrested miners, said one of the wounded had killed himself since the last hearing, in the first week of December.

The man's family believed the trauma of events surrounding the shooting on August 16 motivated the suicide.

Farlam expressed the commission's condolences to the man's family and friends.

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X 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
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Watch: Investing in the future through child development

An investment of R32-million into 11 early childhood development centres is changing the future for children in the Northern Cape.

Partner Content
What all investors should know about index investing

Index-linked investments are growing fast in popularity globally, and are growing in size and complexity too.


Weird things dogs do

Caught your dog doing something... well a little bit odd? Don’t worry, there’s a simple explanation for his behaviour.



Makeover saves dog’s life
For the love of Corgis!
Can we communicate with our pets?
8 great natural remedies for your pet
Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


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 network.


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.