Marikana cops told to aim low - witness

2014-05-29 21:36
(Picture: AP)

(Picture: AP)

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Pretoria - Police were briefed to aim below the knee before the 2012 Marikana shootings occurred, the Farlam Commission of Inquiry heard on Thursday.

"I told them don't forget the rules of engagement, don't just shoot at people, shoot in the ground," Lieutenant Colonel Little Joe Ronny Classen testified.

He said under cross-examination that he told his men to shoot below the knee if anything went wrong. He was the commander of the tactical response team deployed in Marikana on 16 August 2012.

Classen said he did not know why police officers did not heed his instructions.

George Bizos SC, for the Legal Resources Centre, said police officers had not told the commission they were briefed to shoot below the knee.

Classen said he did not give his colleagues the command to shoot.

Bizos then asked what went wrong on 16 August 2012.

Classen said: "The operation wasn't successful because there wasn't a plan to kill."

Earlier, the commission heard that police had to use live ammunition during the Marikana shooting.

Classen testified that two shots were fired at police as striking miners moved towards them.

He said the approaching strikers were not deterred by warning shots.

"The dust was caused by us firing into the ground. That is a way of giving a warning," he said, referring to a video screened at the commission.

Classen said that when barbed wire was unrolled, the strikers, some of them carrying spears and knobkerries, started to move towards it and the Nyala police vehicles.

Classen joined the police in 1991 and had been trained in crowd management.

The commission, chaired by retired Judge Ian Farlam, is investigating the deaths of 44 people during the violent wage-related strike at Lonmin's platinum mining operations.

On 16 August 2012, 34 people, mostly mineworkers, were shot dead by police while trying to disarm and disperse them.

Ten people, including two policemen and two security guards, were killed during the preceding week.

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Read more on:    lonmin  |  police  |  pretoria  |  marikana inquiry
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