Marikana cops were unprepared

2013-04-24 14:55
(Picture: AP)

(Picture: AP)

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Rustenburg - Police had not anticipated making as many arrests as they did during the Marikana unrest, the Farlam Commission of Inquiry heard on Wednesday.

"We had anticipated to arrest way less people," SAPS special tactical operations team head Major-General Charl Annandale said in his evidence-in-chief at the Rustenburg hearings.

He said the police brought in five trucks, which could hold 170 detainees, during the unrest at Lonmin's platinum mine in Marikana in August.

A total of 259 people were arrested on 16 August, the day the police opened fire on striking mineworkers gathered on a hill near the mine, killing 34 of them.

The commission, chaired by retired Judge Ian Farlam, is investigating the circumstances of these deaths, and those of the 10 people killed during the preceding week.

In a statement, public order policing analyst Gary White said the arrested could have provoked the protesters' anger and resulted in more fatalities and injuries.

He said police should rather have recorded the event and captured evidence, and returned later to make arrests.

Analyst’s statement rejected

Annandale rejected White's statement and said the police had tried to mitigate the risks.

"A recording wouldn't have protected the people," he said.

Police negotiations with the protesters would not have continued.

A threat had already been made, and the protesters' attitude had changed, said Annandale.

He said union leaders had failed to convince their people to lay down their arms, and there had been a drastic turn in the situation.

"If the group got into the informal settlement, they could have used innocent people as human shields... caused intimidation... damaged property," Annandale said.

He said there had been tension between two unions, the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu), and the police needed to take control.

The hearing continues.

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