'Murder on a massive scale' at Marikana

2012-08-30 14:10
File (AP)

File (AP)

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Too early to assess Lonmin's impact on investment

2012-08-30 09:10

Parliament has questioned investor confidence following the Lonmin mine saga and the wave of unrest in the mining sector that saw 44 people killed. Watch.WATCH

Johannesburg - Police shot dead strikers at Lonmin's Marikana mine "in cold blood", a Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer alleged on Thursday, after he spent 15 days probing the violence that killed 44.

"Heavily armed police hunted down and killed the miners in cold blood," photographer Greg Marinovich wrote on the Daily Maverick news website.

Marinovich spent more than two weeks at the Lonmin platinum mine in Marikana, interviewing witnesses and taking photos after police opened fire on striking workers on August 16.

Officers shot dead 34 and injured 78 after a stand-off between rival unions had already killed 10, including two police officers.

Out of sight

Television cameras screened the shooting live, which police afterwards justified as self-defence.

However, at least 20 were killed out of sight of the cameras, surviving strikers and researchers told Marinovich.

"A minority were killed in the filmed event where police claim they acted in self-defence. The rest was murder on a massive scale."

Photographs with the article showed the letter "N" painted by police forensic experts on a rock crevice 300 metres behind the hill where the shooting was filmed.

The letter indicates corpse number 14 in forensic investigation.

"Approaching N from all possible angles, observing the local geography, it is clear that to shoot N, the shooter would have to be close," said Marinovich.

Close range

"After having spent days here at the bloody massacre site, it does not take too much imagination for me to believe that N might have begged for his life on that winter afternoon.

"It is hard to imagine that N would have resisted being taken into custody when thus cornered. There is no chance of escape out of a ring of police."

"J and H died alongside each other. They, too, had no route of escape and had to have been shot at close range," he added.

Marinovich also described a bloody handprint stain on a rock, while other rocks were splattered with blood.

An eyewitness told the photographer armoured police trucks had driven over some strikers.

The witness also said he believed people were hiding in the koppie and police went in and killed them. Most people were shot in the back or run over by Nyalas, and many were unrecognisable, he claimed.

No police comment

President Jacob Zuma last week appointed a judicial commission of inquiry into the events on the day, while police are also conducting an independent investigation.

Police watchdog spokesperson Moses Dlamini declined to comment on the Daily Maverick report.

"I can't comment until I've read the article and spoken to investigators," he told AFP.

The Star newspaper on Monday reported most of the dead were shot in the back while fleeing.

Marinovich won the Pulitzer Prize in 1991 for his coverage of township violence at the end of apartheid. His story as part of the Bang Bang Club, four photographers who covered the conflicts, was told in a book and Hollywood film.

- Daily Maverick story.

Read more on:    police  |  ipid  |  mahikeng  |  police brutality  |  mining unrest
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