Mpofu: Marikana miners were unaware of cops

2014-01-17 07:49
Dali Mpofu. Picture: Leon Sadiki/City Press

Dali Mpofu. Picture: Leon Sadiki/City Press

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Pretoria - Miners running from a hill at Marikana on 16 August 2012 did not know they were heading straight for a police line, the Farlam Commission of Inquiry heard on Thursday.

Dali Mpofu SC, representing wounded and arrested Marikana miners at the inquiry, put it to Brigadier Adriaan Calitz that his clients' view was obscured by nyala police vehicles.

"My point is that the reason why the view between the approaching strikers and the tactical response team's line was obscured, is because of those nyalas that were in front of them. The nyalas subsequently made way," said Mpofu.

"The shooting happened almost immediately after one of the nyalas cleared the way and the volley of bullets came. It’s like there is a nyala, and they [protesters] are coming. It opens the way, and they get shot."

Moving on

Calitz said he did not understand Mpofu’s assertion.

Mpofu went on: "You have testified that the line was not there when the people were blocked by nyala four. When they were going around the kraal, surely they did not know that the people [police] had run and formed the basic line."

The three-member commission's chairperson, retired judge Ian Farlam, intervened, urging Mpofu to move to another point in his cross-examination.

Mpofu insisted that Calitz take the questions.

"With respect, chairperson, I can’t see why any human being, whether it’s this witness or another person cannot answer the questions."

Farlam ordered Mpofu to move to another point of his cross-examination.

Earlier, Mpofu said that when the protesting mineworkers left the hill, they were not looking for trouble.

They were simply going to the Nkaneng informal settlement when they were attacked by police, he said.

"As far as using the path [to Nkaneng] is concerned, the only difference between the first group and the other group behind them, is that those who came first managed to go through, while those who followed were blocked," said Mpofu.

‘Militant groups’ blocked

Calitz said protesters who were peaceful were permitted to go through, and that "militant groups" were intercepted by the police.

"The peaceful groups moved, and the militant groups remained behind [at the hill]. It is not as if it was a coincidence that they [peaceful protesters] went past," said Calitz.

Mpofu said members of the militant group were not able to proceed to the informal settlement, because the path was blocked by a nyala police vehicle.

Calitz disagreed: "That is not correct. They did not proceed because they chose to carry out an attack [on police officers]."

Calitz was the operational police commander during the protracted strike at Marikana, near Rustenburg.

The commission of inquiry is probing the circumstances surrounding the deaths of 44 people during labour-related unrest at Lonmin's platinum mining operations at Marikana, near Rustenburg, North West.

- SAPA

Read more on:    police  |  dali mpofu  |  mining unrest  |  marikana inquiry
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