Lonmin, police co-operation questioned

2014-07-30 21:42
(Picture: AP)

(Picture: AP)

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Pretoria - Lonmin security officers should not have been allowed to participate in the police's joint operations centre (JOC), the Farlam Commission of Inquiry heard on Wednesday.

"You were part of this joint operation, you assisted police in effecting some of the arrests. You kept [detained] people in your premises," Dali Mpofu, for the arrested and wounded Marikana miners, told the inquiry in Pretoria.

Mpofu was cross-examining Lonmin security risk manager Dirk Botes.

"You can't blame the employees who say that is not what is expected from their employer. You are, therefore, equally or partly to blame for their arrest, deaths and injuries," said Mpofu.

Mpofu said it was unjustifiable for police to process the arrested miners at Lonmin's facilities.

"Wouldn't it be strange that Lonmin, which had refused for six days even to speak to these workers, was now prepared to imprison them and keep them inside their premises?" he asked.

Botes disagreed. He said no police station nearby could handle that volume of people on 16 August 2012.

"We made a facility available at the recruitment hub. It was the only nearby place which was controlled, away from any threats. The people were kept in the car park, surrounded with fence before they were taken into our building," said Botes.

"In the building, police prepared the dockets against the people. Case dockets were opened and they were taken to various police stations for detention."

A total of 276 people, mainly Lonmin rock-drill operators, were arrested following a clash with police in Marikana.

Wage-related protests

The three-member commission, chaired by retired Judge Ian Farlam, is probing the deaths of 44 people during the wage-related protests at Lonmin's platinum mine in Marikana, near Rustenburg, North West.

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

In the week of 13 August, 10 people, including two policemen and two security guards, were killed in strike-related violence.

Mpofu said police officers based in Rustenburg were familiar with the Marikana area and could have guided their colleagues drawn from across South Africa during the mine unrest.

"There are three stations around Marikana and those are the people who should have been in the JOC. The role you say you were doing, showing the lay of the land was done by these officers.

"Your involvement in the JOC was merely to collude with the police because you could not have been performing the duties of these police officers," said Mpofu.

Botes responded: "I do not agree. The police cannot provide big printed maps of the areas because they do not have that information and they also don't have the facilities to print the information.

"They cannot assist with the detailed information of critical sites and exposure sites which can be targeted by the strikers for a possible attack," the former police officer said.

‘Unjustifiable’

On Tuesday, Tholoana Motloenya, representing 33 of the 34 people killed on 16 August, said Botes' participation in the JOC was unjustifiable.

"You were present in the JOC at all times, you gave SAPS information. You were aware of SAPS' plans and the changes to the plans," Motloenya said at the hearings.

"You attended Joccom meetings," he said, referring to the joint operational co-ordinating committee.

"We are going to argue that it was completely unacceptable and amounts to Lonmin being operationally involved in the SAPS operation."

Motloenya also represents the families of three mineworkers killed on 13 August.

Botes said his role was to give the police guidance.

"My role was to guide SAPS and to provide adequate layout plans of the whole area. They were having their deployments across Lonmin and all the shafts," he said.

Motloenya asked why it would be Lonmin's role to do so.

Botes concluded his evidence on Wednesday and Lonmin Group head of emergency and security at the time of the shooting, Graeme Sinclair, took the stand.

Sinclair will submit his evidence on Thursday.

 

Read more on:    lonmin  |  police  |  ian farlam  |  dali mpofu  |  pretoria  |  marikana inquiry

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