Marikana crowd control queried

2013-01-22 14:16
Police monitor the area outside the Marikana mine in the North West ahead of the fatal shooting. (Werner Beukes, Sapa)

Police monitor the area outside the Marikana mine in the North West ahead of the fatal shooting. (Werner Beukes, Sapa)

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Johannesburg - Questions were asked on Tuesday about police planning before a shooting that left 34 striking miners dead in Marikana, North West.

Human Rights Commission lawyer Nokukhanya Jele was cross-examining public order policing expert Brigadier Zephania Mkhwanazi, during hearings in Rustenburg by the Farlam Commission of Inquiry into the events at Marikana on 16 August last year.

Jele put it to him that on that day there were about 170 public order police and more than 3 000 striking Lonmin miners on the site.

In Limpopo and in Gauteng there were a total of 1 314 public order police who were not called in to help.

Instead, other less specialised officers were called in to help, some from much further away.

Other protests

Mkhwanazi said: "Advocate, as you said, if they were available. As I indicated from the beginning there were other service delivery protest issues that were taking place [in other areas]".

Jele asked him if the decision not to called more specialised police immediately had been a fundamental flaw.

Mkhwanazi said he was not part of the planning, and was unsure what the situation in the other provinces was at that stage.

"If there wasn't anything taking place there, this was going to be the easiest way to have members there as quickly as possible. Therefore if they never called them because there was nothing happening there, really it can be some sort of a mistake."

The commission is probing the deaths of 44 people during an unprotected strike at Lonmin's Marikana mine.

Thirty-four striking mineworkers were shot dead and 78 wounded when police opened fire while trying to disperse a group gathered on a hill near Lonmin's platinum mine.

In the preceding week, 10 people, including two police officers and two security guards, were hacked to death near the mine.

- SAPA
Read more on:    mahikeng  |  marikana inquiry
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