Marikana cops were warned about danger

2013-06-13 22:00
(Picture: Sapa)

(Picture: Sapa)

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Johannesburg - Police were told about the danger they would face at a hill in Marikana during mining unrest last year, the Farlam Commission of Inquiry heard on Thursday.

Vuyani Ngalwana, for the police, read a statement by Warrant Officer Rapheso Masenya to North West deputy police commissioner General William Mpembe.

Masenya was part of the operations on 16 August and recorded events with a video camera.

He said in his statement that he and his team were told by Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) president Joseph Mathunjwa not to get close to the protesters because they would get hurt.

"He advised we should not get closer as they [miners] were angry and would injure us... he said it in isiXhosa: bazonilimaza la babantu... [these people will hurt you]." Mathunjwa had addressed the protesters just after midday.

Police spokesperson Dennis Adriao told Masenya and his team: "You are being identified as police spies and you should withdraw from this place as miners said they would kill you."

Masenya said he and his team, who were filming the scene, went back to the operations centre.

Asked whether he had received Masenya's information at that time, Mpembe said he only knew about it after the shooting.

Mpembe said he was not aware that Mathunjwa was addressing protesters at the hill at that time. He told the commission police were already deployed along the hill immediately, after the move to launch a dispersal plan was agreed upon at a police task team meeting.

Protestors

Earlier, he said he made the decision to disperse the protesters, and that his superior, provincial commissioner Lieutenant General Zukiswa Mbombo, and the rest of the team agreed.

As he was getting ready to leave the police command centre and board a private security helicopter to the scene, Mpembe said he heard on the police radio that protesters were moving towards the police line.

Police did not have footage of the shooting because Masenya and his team had left the scene, said Ngalwana.

Commission chairperson, retired Judge Ian Farlam, asked Mpembe why those tasked with filming did not make use of the police safe line meant to protect other officers and the media.

"Why didn't they go there so that they can carry on filming and taking pictures?" he asked Mpembe.

Mpembe said the information he received indicated it was dangerous for some of the officers to remain there.

The commission, sitting in Centurion, is probing the circumstances surrounding the deaths of 44 people during an unprotected strike at Lonmin's platinum mine in Marikana, in August.

The hearing continues on Friday.

- SAPA
Read more on:    amcu  |  lonmin  |  police  |  william mpembe  |  joseph mathunjwa  |  ian farlam  |  dennis adriao  |  mahikeng  |  marikana inquiry
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