Semenya: Marikana protesters' action treasonous

2014-11-13 21:06
Marikana inquiry (Picture: Sapa)

Marikana inquiry (Picture: Sapa)

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Pretoria - An attack on police officers by protesting Lonmin miners at Marikana was tantamount to treason, the Farlam Commission of Inquiry heard on Thursday.

"It is a mis-description that there were strikers on an unprotected strike carrying weapons. There were 300 to 400 people bearing arms against the state - show me any higher treason," Ishmael Semenya SC, for the SA Police Service [SAPS] told the inquiry in Pretoria in his closing arguments.

"If we bring home that this group of people were attacking the police, they were attacking the authority of the state. They were attacking the only authority that is able to maintain law and order."

He said the SAPS recommended that, in its final report, the inquiry led by retired judge Ian Farlam state that the slain men were wielding arms against the state.

It should find that the Constitution gave South Africans the right to express outrage at conduct such as this.

"We should say: 'Not in our name. You are not going to bear arms against the state.' If that can be accomplished, then maybe we will build a society where we even stop for a red light," Semenya said.

He submitted that if the protesting miners were not armed "not one striker, employee, police officer would have been dead".

The commission is investigating the deaths of 44 people during strike-related violence at Lonmin's platinum mining operations at Marikana, near Rustenburg, North West.

Thirty-four people, mostly striking mineworkers, were shot dead in a clash with police, more than 70 were wounded, and 250 were arrested on 16 August 2012. The police were apparently trying to disarm and disperse them at the time.

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

Semenya said allegations that the protesters were carrying the weapons to protect themselves against the rival National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) did not hold water.

"You have a group with pangas, machetes and spears against NUM people with pangas, machetes and spears and they hack one another in self and private defence. What type of a country is this?"

"You go to the police and say you are being threatened. The consequences of the police take hold. You don't go to Mr Cassim [a store owner who sold pangas] and take his entire stock," said Semenya.

He said the police would want Farlam, in his final report, to recommend that traders with such weapons keep a register of their customers.

"They must sell to somebody whose particulars they can have. They must have the ID [identity document] and the purpose of using that thing," said Semenya.

The inquiry continues.

Read more on:    marikana inquiry

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