Marikana plan cop responsible - lawyer

2013-11-01 08:16
(Picture: AFP)

(Picture: AFP)

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Pretoria - The compiler of a police plan to curb labour unrest at Marikana last year should be held accountable, the Farlam Commission of Inquiry heard on Thursday.

Michelle le Roux, for the SA Human Rights Commission, said public order policing expert Gary White had criticised the implementation of the police plan engineered by Lieutenant Colonel Duncan Scott.

Le Roux was cross-examining Scott regarding the strategy.

Haphazard

The criticism related to planning, leadership and the execution of the operation, which had been described as haphazard, rushed, negligent, and inadequate.

"The Human Rights Commission will make submissions to the commission that you should be held accountable for those failures. Do you think this (operation) was effectively commanded and controlled?" Le Roux asked Scott.

The senior policeman said White did not have a full comprehension of the South African context and the scenario which prevailed at Marikana, near Rustenburg, in August last year.

"You've got to take into consideration that the ideal [scenario] is based on having the sufficient time and sufficient intelligence, everything is there for you to control a group of people that are all adherent," said Scott.

"He [White] also has the mindset that he would be dealing with people that speak English, as he speaks English, not understanding about the communication issues in South Africa. You have to take the mitigating circumstances such as the lack of time [into account]," Scott said.

The SAHRC had asked White, an international public order policing expert, to submit an analysis of the Marikana shootings.

Scott said compared to an ideal scenario of implementing an intervention plan, "of course there were issues" at Marikana.

Slowed down

"I don't think it's my place to criticise my [police] colleagues against what I would have done, having a different background, training and having the hindsight I have now," he said.

"I agree with the approach that the whole operation should have been slowed down, police officers should have backed away to a safe distance and negotiations should have been re-ignited."

Scott said he had certain tactics which he would have implemented to minimise the need to use "sharp point ammunition and force" on the protesters.

Major General Charl Annandale headed the police's tactical response team during the wage-related unrest at Lonmin's platinum mine in Marikana. He appointed Scott to co-ordinate the police's dispersal and disarming plan. Scott was part of the special task force unit.

Scott largely formulated the plan, which was to be used to disperse and disarm the striking mineworkers. It was referred to as the "Scott plan".

Earlier commission chair, retired judge Ian Farlam, said the inquiry's term would be extended.

"I want to place it on record that I've been informed this morning from the president's office that the relevant extension proclamation will be signed today, so we will be able to proceed tomorrow [Friday]," he said.

The police shot dead 34 people, mostly striking mineworkers, wounded 70, and arrested 250 at Marikana on 16 August 2012.

In the preceding week, 10 people, including two policemen and two security guards, were killed.

Read more on:    hrc  |  ian farlam  |  mahikeng  |  marikana commission

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