Marikana: Cops trapped miners – Mpofu

2013-05-07 13:00

Some of the miners injured and arrested during the Marikana unrest claimed they were trapped on a hill by the police, the Marikana Commission of Inquiry has heard.

“Some of the people I represent were trapped on the inside of the barbed wire,” said Advocate Dali Mpofu, who acts for people who were injured and arrested, when police opened fire on protesters gathered on a hill in Marikana on August 16.

Photographs handed in as evidence showed that the police deployed barbed wire barely three minutes after Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union president Joseph Mathunjwa left the hill, after addressing the striking mine workers at 3.40pm.

In some of the photographs, miners were shown making their way off the hill, in the direction of their homes.

Police opened fire on the miners at 4pm.

The commission is probing the circumstances of the deaths of 34 people in that shooting, and of 10 people, among them two policemen and two security guards, in strike-related violence the previous week.

Mpofu said some protesters had left the hill because of Mathunjwa’s impassioned plea, and that others had tried to leave when the police started unrolling the barbed wire.

“What I am saying is, had that wire been deployed (later), perhaps some of them would have made it home,” said Mpofu.

Ishmael Semenya, for the police, objected, and said none of the arrested and injured miners had submitted this version to the commission.

Maj-Gen Charl Annandale, who headed the police’s tactical operations team at Marikana, and was being cross-examined by Mpofu, said his assertion was based on assumptions.

“Assumptions are being made, of which I cannot agree with them,” he said.

Annandale said it had been important for the police to implement the disarming and dispersal action when they did.

“The sun would have started setting at around 5.40pm and 5.45pm ... If the dispersal action had not happened then, it would have gone into the night,” he said.

Earlier, Mpofu said he would submit to the commission that Annandale had a hand in the killing of the striking Marikana miners.

“One of the things we’ll argue is that you, Annandale, played a significant role in the events that led to the Marikana massacre,” he said.

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