I was misquoted - Marikana cop

2013-11-25 20:50
(Picture: AP)

(Picture: AP)

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Pretoria - A senior policeman has denied praising subordinates for the "perfect massacre" after the Marikana shooting in North West last year.

Brigadier Adriaan Calitz told the Farlam Commission of Inquiry in Centurion on Monday he merely commended policemen for adhering to a police plan for dispersing striking miners.

He was replying to questions by Advocate Ishmael Semenya, for the police, regarding his congratulatory remarks in a video taken two days after the 16 August shooting.

In the video, Calitz is seen addressing uniformed officers at the police base at Lonmin's Marikana mine in Rustenburg in the North West.

"At this stage we did nothing wrong. From the planning to the execution [it] was 110%... I have to congratulate you," Calitz reportedly said in the controversial video.

"Exactly how we planned it and we briefed the commanders, exactly we executed in that line."

On Monday, Calitz was given the opportunity to explain his "110%" remarks.

"I was talking about the plan when I mentioned those words. I was quoted in the Sowetan as having said [it was] the perfect massacre. I only talked about the members' co-operation," he said.

"I never spoke of any shooting, I never spoke of how people were killed."

His subordinates did exactly as they had been told - "the encirclement, the disarming, and even the arrest of the people [protesters] had taken place".


Semenya asked Calitz why he felt the need to congratulate his charges.

"I felt it was my duty to let them know that they had not done anything wrong. If someone speaks of 110%, it is used as a motivation to the people," he said.

"The members did not know what to expect, they had been told that some of them would be suspended and expelled. I talked about the 110% regarding the manner in which they had taken instructions [during the Marikana intervention]."

Earlier, Calitz told the commission he was unaware that mineworkers "lying around" after the encounter with police were dead.

In a sworn statement submitted to the commission, Calitz testified that due to the noise around the koppie, he had not heard the police tactical response team (TRT) firing live ammunition at the strikers.

"I contacted Lieutenant Colonel [Solomon] Vermaak on radio and inquired from him why the TRT was not following our dispersal action. He said he would go and check and later reported that the TRT were at the kraal and there were bodies lying around," said Calitz.

"I thought, given my experience and the absence of such a report to me, that the bodies referred to people who were injured by the dispersion action or lying down to be arrested."


Calitz detailed how he instructed officers to pursue protesters who were escaping in the northern and western directions. He urged the officers to arrest the fleeing protesters.

"I gave clear instructions over the radio to the dispersion group [police officers] 'do not shoot unless the target engages you'. I repeated the instruction to ensure that members understood me clearly," said Calitz.

"The shooting I was referring to [meant the use of] rubber rounds and not sharp ammunition. They were to use rubber only as a last resort if the armed strikers approached them with dangerous weapons."

Calitz was one of the police commanders assigned to the operation during the labour unrest at Lonmin's platinum mining operations at Marikana.

The three-member commission led by retired Judge Ian Farlam is holding public hearings. The other commissioners are senior advocates Bantubonke Tokota and Pingla Hemraj.

Thirty-four people, mostly striking miners, were shot dead on 16 August 2012, and 78 were wounded when the police fired on them while trying to disperse and disarm a group which had gathered on a hill near Lonmin's platinum mining operations.

In the preceding week, 10 people, including two policeman and two security guards, were killed near the mine.

President Jacob Zuma appointed the commission in August last year.

The public hearings will resume on Tuesday.

Read more on:    lonmin  |  police  |  ian farlam  |  marikana inquiry

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