Marikana families return to Eastern Cape

2013-03-27 18:37
(Picture: Sapa)

(Picture: Sapa)

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Rustenburg - Families of the Lonmin mineworkers shot in Marikana, North West, last year will return to the Eastern Cape for Easter, the Farlam Commission heard on Wednesday.

Chairperson of the three-member commission, retired judge Ian Farlam, said the families would rejoin the public hearings on 16 April.

"They will be leaving today [Wednesday] during lunchtime, for the Easter holidays. We wish them a safe journey back home and the rest of Easter," he said.

"I understand they have made great sacrifices by coming here to be present at the sittings."

National police commissioner Riah Phiyega testified before the commission on Wednesday.

She was cross-examined by advocate George Bizos, for the Legal Resources Centre and the Bench Marks Foundation.

The Farlam Commission is holding an inquiry into the shooting at Lonmin's platinum mine in Marikana, North West, on 16 August  last year.

Thirty-four miners were killed in the clash.

Bizos asked Phiyega about her earlier comments that the Marikana shooting was unprecedented.

He drew similarities between the Marikana shooting and the 1960 Sharpeville massacre.

"What do you remember about Sharpeville? Do you remember how many died? Do you remember how many were injured?"

Phiyega could not give the exact figures.

After giving her the answers, Bizos continued: "They were shot by the police, mostly in the back. The people [who were shot] were wounded in the back. Do you know what the police’s defence was?"

Phiyega said she did not know.

Bizos said: "They said they acted in self-defence - and they were praised for their actions by Dr [Hendrik] Verwoerd."

The police chief said the Sharpeville protesters were not armed.

Bizos continued: "How many people did you have to deal with: 300 or 3 500 at Marikana?"

Phiyega said she had previously answered the question. She referred Bizos to a document alleging the police were dealing with a group of 3 000 armed protesters.

"Advocate, my commanders can tell you those details. The plan was to separate, disarm and disperse those who were there [at the koppie]," she said.

Bizos put it to Phiyega that video evidence, captured at the koppie, showed that most protesters were unarmed.

Phiyega responded: "Nothing short of counting, it will be very irresponsible to say minority or majority. I was not even on the scene."

The hearing continues.

Read more on:    lonmin  |  police  |  ian farlam  |  george bizos  |  riah phiyega  |  mahikeng  |  marikana inquiry

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