Marikana: ‘People were hacked to death, it didn’t look good’

2012-10-30 09:08

A police officer testifying before the Farlam commission of inquiry into the August Marikana killings lost his cool during cross examination by a lawyer representing 21 families of the 34 people shot and killed by police.

Lieutenant-Colonel Cornelius Botha said during cross examination by Advocate Dumisa Ntsebeza that he took many photographs of one of the two police officers who was killed, allegedly by miners, on August 13.

He had also taken photographs during the post-morterm of the other five people who were killed that day, including another policeman who had died in hospital. He said the photographs were compiled into an album.

“People were hacked to death, it didn’t look good,” Botha said in response to a question by Ntsebeza if the scene of the bodies had been gruesome.

“Sir, after 28 years, you learn to cut yourself off because we have work to do whether it’s a police officer or not,” he said when Ntsebeza asked how he felt when he saw the bodies of his colleagues in such a state.

“It’s going to sound terrible. I can’t say I didn’t feel anything because it’s dead people lying there, but I’m cutting my feelings off at that stage,” said Botha.

What was your first reaction? Ntsebeza persisted, seemingly trying to establish if Botha had felt any anger at the sight.

“I cannot answer it in any other way. After 26 years of seeing dead policemen, dead civilians, when you get to the scene, you cut yourself off because if you get emotional you are not going to do a good job,” Botha responded.

“Did it not cross your mind that whoever was responsible should be brought to book?” Ntsebeza continued his probing.

“Can you qualify brought to book?” Ntsebeza asked if Botha felt that whoever killed the police officers must pay for it.

“I don’t think I want to answer that question,” Botha said.

“I see the question as an insult ... to say that I pick people to be punished, that’s not the way that I see things. All criminals have to be brought to book, if you kill a policeman or a civilian, you have to be brought to book,” said Botha.

Botha said he did not know if any of the images were circulated widely among his colleagues.

The inquiry’s chairperson, retired judge Ian Farlam, objected to a question by Ntsebeza, when he asked Botha how his colleagues in the police would have felt after seeing the images.

Botha’s cross examination continues today.

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