Marikana plan a 'one-man show'

2013-05-15 22:20
(Picture: Sapa)

(Picture: Sapa)

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Rustenburg - Only one police commander during last year's violence in Marikana played a part in formulating a plan to disperse strikers, the Farlam Commission heard on Wednesday.

Nokukhanya Jele, for the SA Human Rights Commission, said it seemed as though Lieutenant Colonel Duncan Scott was the sole planner.

This was the overall impression gained from statements entered as evidence by senior police officials, she said.

In his statement, Scott referred to steps he had taken in formulating the plan, and included hardly any evidence that input was provided by the other officers, said Jele.

"Colonel Scott speaks of the plan as if it was his baby," she said.

The plan had previously been referred to as "Scott's plan".

However, in earlier proceedings, Major General Charl Annandale told the commission this was because Scott had put together the final presentation of the plan after receiving input from those involved.

He maintained that the plan was a joint effort from all the commanders.

"All the commanders had an opportunity to give input. If any of them didn't give input, it would be because they accepted the input which had been given by others," said Annandale.

He had headed the police's tactical response team during the unrest.

Jele criticised the fact that there were no minutes nor an agenda compiled for the meetings where the plan was reportedly discussed.

She also argued that it seemed not all the commanders understood the plan, meaning they were not even present when it was formulated.

"None of the statements show that they gave any input. It seems they were not even there when the plan was made," said Jele.

She referred to the statement of one officer, who said police were planning to use the barbed wire to create a single exit point from the hill.

Police would then be able to stop and search striking mineworkers as they made they way through the exit point.

Annandale, however, had told the commission that the barbed wire was used to create a distance between the police and protesters. He said it was also meant as a show of force by the police.

He said the officer was probably referring to the police's first and initial plan.

The commission, chaired by retired judge Ian Farlam, is investigating the deaths of 44 people killed in Lonmin's wage-related unrest last year.

Police shot dead 34 striking mineworkers in Marikana on 16 August. Ten people, including two police officers, were killed in the preceding week.

No training

Earlier, Jele raised questions on the crowd management training that the senior cops who headed the operation had.

Jele pointed out that Annandale had undergone four courses on crowd management in his years as a police officer.

Despite this, Annandale said he was not an expert in crowd management.

According to Jele, documents handed in by the SA Police Service gave no indication that provincial police commissioner, Luzuko Mbombo, had ever had any training in crowd control.

"Mbombo's history shows she has taken no training in public policing or crowd management," said Jele.

The commission, sitting in Rustenburg, heard that General William Mpembe, another senior official who took part in the Marikana operation, had received training on crowd management back in 1986.

Lonmin lawyer Schalk Burger cross-examined Annandale earlier in the morning.

He questioned Annandale on the relationship that existed between police and Lonmin.

Annandale said the two parties had a professional working relationship.

He said they exchanged information during the unrest and Lonmin provided police with CCTV footage.

"We wouldn't have been able to work properly without them [Lonmin] playing their important role," he said.

Had the company refused to provide the information, it could have been regarded as a criminal offence, said Annandale.

Toxic

On Tuesday, Dali Mpofu, for the arrested and injured miners, described the relationship between police and Lonmin as "toxic".

Burger also questioned Annandale on what he thought had gone wrong in Marikana.

Annandale said the protesters had exerted pressure on Lonmin, demanding wages of R12 500 per month.

The protesters then turned and directed their anger at police officers, who were there to act as mediators in the unrest.

Annandale said among other things, the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union took workers' demands for a higher wage as an opportunity to gain members.

"Not only had NUM [National Union of Mineworkers] started losing members, but there was conflict between the unions," he said.

Annandale also agreed with Burger's statements that Lonmin officials would not have been able to go and negotiate at the hill with the miners.

He said the mine already had a standing wage agreement with the workers.

The workers had engaged in an unprotected, illegal strike and they had already killed security guards and stolen their weapons, said Burger.

Read more on:    lonmin  |  police  |  mahikeng  |  marikana inquiry  |  mining unrest

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