Missing Marikana footage 'puzzling'

2012-11-22 22:26
Johannes Seoka (Picture: Beeld)

Johannes Seoka (Picture: Beeld)

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Rustenburg - It was puzzling that the police did not record key moments of violence at Lonmin's mine in North West, Pretoria Anglican bishop Johannes Seoka told the Farlam Commission on Thursday.

He made the observation during the judicial inquiry's public hearings, in Rustenburg, into strike-related killings in Marikana in August.

Seoka's testimony was led by Dumisa Ntsebeza, for the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu).

They discussed video evidence, captured by the police, of a confrontation between the police and armed protesters near a railway line on 13 August.

North West deputy provincial police commissioner Major General William Mpembe is heard demanding that protesters surrender their weapons.

Mpembe, accompanied by numerous armed police officers, indicates that the group will not be allowed to proceed if they do not surrender their weapons. He also tells the group to stop their illegal gatherings.

In response, the protesters' leaders tell Mpembe they will not disarm until the police bring their employers to them. They also tell him they will not be fighting anyone.

The group then makes a diversion and continues on its way, armed with pangas, spears, knobkerries and sticks. At the end of the clip, police officers are seen pointing firearms at the protesters.

Ishmael Semenya, for the police, earlier told the commission that, a few moments later, there was the fatal confrontation in which police officers were killed. However the "brutal hacking" of the officers was not recorded.

Ntsebeza said it was "remarkable" that there was no footage from either the police or Lonmin indicating how the situation degenerated until the killing of the policemen.

"I have asked this question before: don’t you find it remarkable that we don’t have the footage on a point to point basis detailing how the conflict arose until that took away those lives?" asked Ntsebeza.

Seoka responded: "That is what one would have expected [the capturing of the video] considering the situation was volatile. The fact that it is not there is a puzzle."

Ntsebeza said there was a letter, handed in as evidence, issued in July by the office of the national police commissioner instructing police teams to record video footage of incidents they tackled, including the crowds. The letter instructed record-keepers to safeguard the footage captured.

However, Marikana police footage ended when the group of strikers started to move on, despite the police restriction.

Still photographs of the hacked policemen were viewed by the commission.

Seoka said, from watching the police video, that when police initially addressed the protesters, Mpembe appeared to be an "unprofessional" negotiator.

"It was a desperate, unprofessional way of handling the situation," he said.

The hearings continue on Friday at the Rustenburg Civic Centre.

- SAPA

Read more on:    amcu  |  police  |  dumisa ntsebeza  |  johannes seoka  |  ian farlam  |  mahikeng  |  mining unrest  |  marikana inquiry
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