Mothutlung ammo raised at Marikana inquiry

2014-01-28 14:08
(Picture: AP)

(Picture: AP)

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Pretoria - Police evidence, given previously, stating that the use of shotgun pellets had been discontinued since 2006, was questioned at the Farlam Commission of Inquiry on Tuesday.

Anthony Gotz, for the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu), said police officers last week reportedly fired the banned shotgun pellets during a service delivery protest in Mothutlung, North West, which left four people dead.

He was cross-examining police officer Brigadier Adriaan Calitz at the inquiry's public hearings in Pretoria.

"Allegations that have emerged in the last week [show] that at least one or more of the public order policing [POP] members who were deployed to North West were in possession of shotgun pellets and cartridges and they used them.

"Would you be prepared to accept that the same could have happened at Marikana?" Gotz asked.

The chairperson of the commission, retired Judge Ian Farlam, intervened and disallowed Gotz's question.

"If it's so, you do need evidence. Clearly, if it becomes established, to show that members of the POP in the North West were in possession of shotgun pellets ... presumably it would be possible that members of POP at Marikana could also have had shotgun pellets," said Farlam.

"I don't think you need to ask the witness a hypothetical question."

Banned shotgun rounds

Last week, Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa told reporters in Pretoria that officers fired the banned shotgun rounds during the Mothutlung service delivery protest.

The SSG 12-gauge rounds, which contain pellets, were officially discontinued by the SA Police Service in 2006, and were "not supposed to be used", he said.

Three people died and one was fatally wounded on 13 January, during protests about water services in Mothutlung. Two of them were allegedly shot by the police, a third died in a fall from a moving police vehicle, while the fourth, who was shot in the head, died in hospital the next day.

Responding to questions, Mthethwa said no "live" ammunition was used by police at the protest.

"I explained that there are rounds which are known as SSG, or 12-gauge rounds... which were not supposed to be used, but that's not live ammunition, it's mainly pellets."

Mthethwa said a police investigation had discovered these rounds were used.

The investigation also found that 14 members had not complied with certain core internal operational prescripts.

The commission led by Farlam is probing the deaths of 44 people during violent wage-related protests in Marikana.

On 16 August 2012, 34 people, mostly striking miners, were shot dead and 78 people were wounded when the police fired on a group gathered at a hill near the mine. They were trying to disperse and disarm them.

In the preceding week, 10 people, including two policemen and two security guards, were killed in strike-related violence.

- SAPA
Read more on:    police  |  amcu  |  ian farlam  |  nathi mthethwa  |  protests  |  police brutality  |  marikana inquiry
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