I won't be Marikana fall guy - cop

2014-03-25 20:30
Striking Marikana miners. (Picture: AFP)

Striking Marikana miners. (Picture: AFP)

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

Pretoria - The police wanted North West air wing commander Salmon Vermaak to take the blame for the deaths of Marikana miners, the Farlam Commission of Inquiry heard on Tuesday.

The senior policeman was testifying at the public hearings of the inquiry in Centurion.

"In a consultation with the police legal team, it was mentioned to me that I am going to carry the responsibility for the people that were killed at koppie three," he said.

"I realised that I should note everything down in my diary regarding meetings and discussions we were having [regarding Marikana incidents]."

Vermaak said he made it clear to the police legal team, national commissioner Riah Phiyega and the provincial commissioner Zukiswa Mbombo that he would only stick to the facts.

He said he kept "clear records" of the moves by the SA Police Service to place Marikana blame at his doorstep.

Speaking in Afrikaans, Vermaak said he was disappointed by his superiors' stance.

"I was disappointed that all of a sudden a finger was being pointed at me, with all my years of public order policing. I was being directly held responsible for the death of these people," said Vermaak.

"Where do they base the allegations against me? It is not acceptable. Did they give me any other briefing about any other plan that was going to be implemented [on 16 August,  2012]?"

He said the only intervention plan he knew prior to the bloody confrontation, involved just encircling the thousands of protesters gathered at a hill in Marikana.

Vermaak also told the commission that he received a call from Brigadier Adriaan Calitz, North West provincial head of operational response services, on 9 January.

Regarding the conversation, Vermaak said Calitz told him that he (Vermaak) would be the one to take the fall for the Marikana shootings, particularly at koppie three.


"I told him that I was going to stick to the truth and nothing else. If there were mistakes made, I was going to admit them," Vermaak said.

"Blame was being apportioned to me, I made an entry in my diary."

Calitz was one of the operational commanders deployed at Marikana. He has previously testified at the Farlam inquiry.

Vermaak broke ranks with his employer when he started testifying at the inquiry on Monday.

He cited numerous flaws within the SAPS intervention methods to manage a lengthy wage-related protest at Lonmin mine's Marikana plant.

"I have raised my concern with the manner in which this protest was handled. It could not be done in the ordinary manner like a service delivery protest," said Vermaak.

"It was clear to me that there wasn't much experience. The protests you get in the mines are more violent than the ordinary protests. They fight to their deaths."


He said that by 16 August, it was known within the SAPS that the protesters had carried out certain rituals with sangomas and that the miners believed they were invincible before the fatal confrontation.

"These people were fearless. In the past it was believed that police or security officers' bullets would turn into water. The fact that they had advanced on police made it clear that they believed they had sangomas' protection."

Vermaak said armoured vehicles should have been used to protect police officers.

In the days leading up to the massacre, he said he had cautioned Calitz that "a much more careful approach was needed" in dealing with the armed miners.

"He only sent me a message [saying] 'thank you', that's all," said Vermaak.


On 16 August 2012, police shot and killed 34, mostly protesting miners, at Lonmin's platinum mining operations at Marikana, near Rustenburg in North West.

At least 78 miners were also wounded when police fired on the group gathered at a hill near the mine while trying to disarm and disperse them.

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

The commission, led by retired judge Ian Farlam, is probing the 44 deaths.

Unlike all other police officers who have testified at the inquiry, Vermaak is being led in giving his testimony by evidence leaders.

Other police officers have been led by SAPS lawyers at the commission.

Vermaak will be cross-examined by the police lawyers.

Read more on:    ian farlam  |  pretoria  |  marikana inquiry

Hired 'witch hunter' jailed

2014-11-24 18:54

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com 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
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining

Inside News24


Hottie of the day: Charlotte

Meet our hottie of the day, Charlotte. She feels sexiest after a good workout at the gym!



This is why guys shouldn’t be in photos
BMW drift battle: M235i vs. speedway bike
Want to start talking dirty?
And this year's Miss Bumbum title goes to...

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Festive gifts!

Check out our awesome range of festive gifts to make everyone’s wishes come true. Shop now!

Seen something you like in our catalogue?

Find the perfect gift and save up to R5000 – As seen on the catalogue. Hurry and shop now!

Save up to R2200 on electronics! – As seen in the catalogue

Wishing for tech gadgets this festive? Save up to R2100 on hot tech products at kalahari.com. While stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 35% off books

Save up to 35% on the latest page-turners. While stocks last. Shop now!

Good Morning, Mr Mandela by Zelda la Grange

Good Morning, Mr Mandela tells the extraordinary story of how a young woman had her life, beliefs, prejudices and everything she once believed in utterly transformed by the greatest man of her time. Now R221. Pre-order now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25


Enjoy the view because as from tomorrow you are going to need to come back down to earth and join the party. In the meantime use...read more

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 24.com 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.