Miners moved towards Marikana cops, inquiry hears

2013-11-29 20:34
(Picture: AFP)

(Picture: AFP)

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Pretoria - A group of aggressive mineworkers moved towards police officers deployed at Marikana to intervene in the violent wage related protest at Lonmin mine, the Farlam Commission heard on Friday.

Brigadier Adriaan Calitz was the police’s operational commander at Marikana in August last year. He told the Farlam Commission on Friday that he became worried about his subordinates' lives when the miners were approaching.

"The group was moving towards Nyala Four, in a crouching position. I contacted Nyala Four and instructed the members that were outside to get back into the vehicle," he said.

Head of evidence leaders Advocate Geoff Budlender, asked Calitz to explain whether he had managed to recognise some of the people in the advancing crowd.

"I could not identify the faces because of the distances. Someone was in green but I could not make out whether it was a green blanket or jacket.

"The group kept moving forward," said Calitz.

"I jumped out of the Nyala and shouted to the members to get back into the Nyala. I screamed at them, then later communicated to them on the [police] radios. My concern was about those members who were outside the Nyala."

He said the Nyala began to accelerate and the groups of miners kept moving parallel to the vehicle.

"I told them [the officers in Nyala Four] to move faster so that the group could not break though [the police line]. At that stage Nyala Five, which had been stationary, moved in."

Calitz said he observed a difference between the attitudes of the "militant group" and the rest of the protesters at the Marikana koppie.

Movement of Nyalas

On Friday, Calitz was using several small blocks on a large map to illustrate the movements of the Nyalas and the protesters on 16 August.

Later that day, 34 people, mostly striking miners, were shot dead and 78 were wounded when police fired on them while trying to disperse and disarm the group gathered at the hill.

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

President Jacob Zuma appointed the commission, chaired by retired Judge Ian Farlam, in August last year to probe these events.

Earlier this week, Calitz told the commission that police crime intelligence gathered information that the protesting Marikana mineworkers were not going to disarm voluntarily before the 16 August shootings last year.

"It was indeed said [by crime intelligence] that there were already 3 000 people and they were not going to put down their weapons. They were going to resist the police and were going to fight," he told the commission sitting in Centurion.

That account was communicated to police on the morning of 16 August.

Read more on:    lonmin  |  police  |  ian farlam  |  jacob zuma  |  marikana inquiry

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