Marikana cops had contingency plan

2013-04-24 22:18
(Picture: Sapa)

(Picture: Sapa)

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Rustenburg - Police denied on Wednesday not having a contingency plan to deal with labour unrest at Lonmin's platinum mine in Marikana, North West, last year.

Major General Charl Annandale told the Farlam Commission of Inquiry into the matter that measures had been built into the main plan.

"We didn't have plan A, B and C... Threats which we had forseen were built into this [main] plan," he said in Rustenburg.

The contingency plans were put into effect in the form of police using barbed wire to create a barrier between themselves and striking mineworkers.

The commission, chaired by retired judge Ian Farlam, is investigating the deaths of 44 people killed during the wage-related unrest in Marikana last year.

Police shot dead 34 mineworkers on 16 August last year when thousands of mineworkers embarked on a pay strike.

Ten people were killed in violence the preceding week.

Annandale, who headed the police's special tactical operations team during the unrest in Marikana, delivered his evidence-in-chief before the commission in Rustenburg.

The commission reviewed a report by public order policing analyst Gary White.

In his report, White said police should not have immediately stopped with their negotiations with the protesters.

He said they should have surrounded them and continued with talks to try and find a peaceful resolution.

Annandale rejected White's report and said police had already attempted to negotiate with the miners.

"Surrounding them would have meant putting vehicles at 360° around the koppie and creating an obstruction," Annandale said.

"It wouldn't have been sound."

No extreme danger

According to White's report only 33 rounds of rubber bullets were fired at protesters who were at the koppie and around 268 rounds of live ammunition were fired from police.

White claimed that police were not facing extreme danger and at the very most, 14 rounds of live ammunition had been fired at them from the protesters.

He also criticised the National Intervention Unit which was seen in the firing line during the unrest.

White's report criticised the fact that the NIU had only been armed with live ammunition when they clashed with protesters.

In response, Annandale told the commission that the NIU took over and performed a task intended to be carried out by the Tactical Response Team (TRT).

White's report also pointed out that not all the officers who were present at the shooting scene were firing shots.

"One officer, who I understand to be Captain Bismark, can be seen waving his hands and saying cease fire [in the footage]," said White.

"He is near the front of the TRT line, but is not shooting his weapon when he comes into frame. He [confirmed] in his statement that he did not fire any shots at all."

White claimed that this showed the officer did not feel threatened.

Earlier, Annandale told the commission that the police had not anticipated making a mass arrest on the day of the shootings.

They had only brought in five trucks which would have been able to detain 170 people.

A total of 259 people were arrested.

He also told the commission that the most senior police officials were not present at the scene where the shooting occurred.

"I was not there, [North West police deputy commissioner] Major General [William] Mpembe was in the helicopter and [provincial commissioner Zukiswa] Mbombo was in the [meeting] area," said Annandale.

The hearings continue.

- SAPA
Read more on:    police  |  mahikeng  |  marikana inquiry  |  mining unrest
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