14 Marikana miners shot in back - lawyer

2012-10-22 17:38

Rustenburg - Fourteen of the 34 Lonmin platinum miners killed by the police in August were shot in the back, a judicial inquiry into the Marikana shooting heard on Monday.

"All fatal projectile wounds were sustained from the back," advocate Dumisa Ntsebeza told the Farlam commission at the Rustenburg Civic Centre, North West.

"Those who were killed were unlawfully killed by SAPS [the SA Police Service]," he said in his opening remarks.

On 16 August the police opened fire while trying to disperse a group of striking mineworkers encamped on a hill in Nkaneng, killing 34 and wounding 78.

The workers had been carrying knobkerries, pangas, sticks, and iron rods.

The miners went on strike on 10 August, demanding a monthly salary of R12 500. Within four days, 10 people had been killed, two of them policemen and two of them security guards.

Ntsebeza represents the Eastern Cape families of 20 of the men who died.

The family members, many of the women wearing black and blue mourning clothes, sat in the first two front rows of the auditorium at the hearing.

Ntsebeza said the police had claimed the mineworkers charged at officers because they had taken muti (traditional medicine) which made them feel invincible. This was the police's justification for killing them.

"For us, the subtext of this justification... is that the miners, according to them [police], acted like possessed men, that they had to be destroyed like vermin and that they were destroyed like vermin," he said.

"Whatever the truth of that tragic day, it cannot be that the SAPS could not have acted differently. [They] could and should have brought the gathering to an end peacefully and without loss of life," Ntsebeza said.

He said his team would contend that every step the police took leading up to 16 August, and on the day itself, made the workers' deaths foreseeable and inevitable.

Ntsebeza agreed it was the police's job to disarm people and disperse gatherings, and that the way they had done so in Marikana was not legitimate.

"The manner and timing... invited injury and death as well."

He said the police's decision to send National Union of Mineworkers and Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union officials to discuss the striking workers' demands was not the correct one.

"SAPS officers on the scene must have known workers were not under the control of the unions... This was a public order issue, not a labour issue," said Ntsebeza.

It appeared the police had not given the mineworkers an official order to disperse, but rather an ultimatum, and had encircled and entrapped the protesters with barbed wire.

"Blocking the miners' dispersal route to Nkaneng informal settlement... [they] had no choice but to move in numbers towards police with nowhere else to go," he said.

"Some of these miners were shot in the back and the back of the head while trying to get away."

Ntsebeza said the police's response to the protest was aggressive, misguided, disproportionate, unreasonable, and unlawful.

  • mamushcka.londotani - 2012-10-22 17:56

    I was gonna do the same_ if i was in the SAPS. #Shoot

      lesedi.nixon - 2012-10-22 18:25

      you are 100 right the sandf should have been send theree hot the police

      wesley.nel.5 - 2012-10-22 21:35

      This 14was the clever one's, they notice before the other muti does not work. Police can see them. I also hope the judge investigate the sangoma that sell the muti

  • Michael - 2012-10-22 18:00

    Actualy the thought muti will turn their bodies into bullet proof, they turn and run backwards when they realise that ey bullets are are real, unfortunately police were firering in all cylinders. Ey muti belivers?

      Vince.York - 2012-10-23 07:55

      Have they brought the rabbit skin or it's 'lucky paw' into court as evidence?

  • Pax Kote - 2012-10-22 18:06

    Police had no choice but 2 Fire! Our Police Men Did a Gr8 Job.... Dey Even NEed 2 be Rewarded

  • sk.malatsi - 2012-10-22 18:06

    what happened to the old basic policing rules? warning shots in the air? they never did that. how about aiming at limbs such as the legs to prevent death? how about lesser means used to disperse protesters? the water cannons ...lastly how about the use of rubber bullets instead of live amo? did all 34 people have to die because one of them had a pistol? really? i still think the police brought guns to a snow ball fight

      tigza.mafu - 2012-10-22 18:27

      Well said shagspear. U dnt use such fire to the civilians unless u r at war

      patricia.dewet.92 - 2012-10-22 18:32

      All the old policing rules were tried, but to no avail. They strike with dangerous weapons. The muti man told them if people die, they were looking back and they must storm the police. To cover himself he was telling this, to but the blame on scared strikers. This is the first person the police must get hold of and put in jail. The lawyer of the strikers is to make a court case and shift blame as if all the strikers got shining halo's.

      maphola.mogale - 2012-10-22 19:35

      Those rules are still valid and the inquiry has investigated both killings for miners and police just that the Media stories only tells about the 34 death since it want to make us understand that Police acted wrongly.

      heathway.master - 2012-10-22 20:30

      The strikers were intent on cutting the police into small pieces with their traditional weapons such as pangas and axes. I did not think that Chaka Zulus warriors were armed with pangas and axes. The front police line was being overrun. Marikana has become a national tragedy, yet nothing much has been said about the 4.5 million peoples who were massacred during the never ending chaos in the Congo. People’s perceptions and political manipulations will always leave me befuddled.

      louwc - 2012-10-22 22:23

      Shag - have you ever been in a life threating mass charge position? They tried rubber bullets, did not work, they tried water cannon, did not work, got charged and shot at, so they returned fire. I have every sympathy for exploited workers but really R12 500 a month for semi-skilled labour? The unions are promising what they can't deliver, the politicians are keeping quiet cause they need the votes....all considered not a healthy situation.

  • ntsikajury.sidloyi - 2012-10-22 18:07

    Being shot @ the back doesn't necessary mean tht the miners did not charge @ the police,they charged saw that some of their collegues were being shot @ turned back and tht's when thet we shot @ the back.I bet those shot @ the back were not in the frontline.

      kgotso.selome - 2012-10-22 18:25

      are you trying to reason? even a prisoner of war can never be shot at the back, irrespective of how many of your colleagues he killed. those police who were sent there were trigger-happy and don't even have a crush course on crowd-control.

      maphola.mogale - 2012-10-22 18:39

      It helps to familiarise yourself with the south african statutes cos you seem to be lost Mr Sidloyi

      juannepierre - 2012-10-23 05:05

      Shot in the back, or, shot at, in the back - just in case you guys are unclear.

  • steyn.spies - 2012-10-22 18:08

    Oeffffffffff!!!!!! H K G K!!!

  • ralph.thornley - 2012-10-22 18:11

    What about the sangoma who promised to turn the police bullets into water? He seems to have gone free. He should be arrested for inciting an attack on the police.

  • ceba.mlandu - 2012-10-22 18:13

    Dear Mr Lawyer. I'll give you a gun and I'll get 5 mates of mine to charge at you with panga's and spades and see how you react. I really don't understand why there's an enquiry here.

      maphola.mogale - 2012-10-22 18:34

      The reason for an inquiry is to check if Police acted lawfully in killing this people and at the end those acted iresponsible shall face the hands of justice

  • liezl.haramis.7 - 2012-10-22 18:22

    Police did a great job. Afterall, they have s far better (maybe not perfect, still human) understanding of pending chaos and death. Good thing a few people were made examples of.

      maphola.mogale - 2012-10-22 18:29

      I think its something that you'l find it unfair if can happen to one of your family member

      whatda.fuqbro - 2012-10-22 18:38

      What was unfair about it Mogale? Are you suggesting that the barbarians shot weren't asking for it and didn't deserve it?

      william.letsong.5 - 2012-10-22 18:58

      A cousin of mine died in a gang related shooting. He decided to be a gang member after almost the entire family pleaded with him to quit. It was his choice, so was it the choices of those who got killed at Marikane to charge at police. They deserved to die, they killed others in case you forget.

      maphola.mogale - 2012-10-22 19:23

      Is not Good to genaralise cos not all of them carryid dangerous weapons and deserved to die.police knows axactly what does the Police statutes says regarding killing an armed man. It gives lot of steps to go through before you decide to kill. Unfortunatetly in this matter every thing should be debated around the statutes and I'm telling you the government is going to loose this case even if it can be referred to the constitutional court,,,,,

      deon.louw.7505 - 2012-10-23 12:51

      The illegal strikers broke a few laws like property damage and murder to name a few. They were looking for trouble and found it, sounds fair to me. Just before the incident the miners said they wanted a war, they found it.

  • thembani.mabeka - 2012-10-22 18:26

    We all south africans

      albert.m.burger - 2012-10-22 18:30

      I R being proudly one

      whatda.fuqbro - 2012-10-22 18:40

      Yeah besides the many Zimbabweans, Nigerians, Angolans and Mozambiqans here.

      william.letsong.5 - 2012-10-22 19:09

      Such a pitty that so many are uncivilised.

  • wendy.schneider3 - 2012-10-22 18:28

    this lawyer only sees a fat pay cheque, thanks to the anc goverment and tax payers!!!

  • whatda.fuqbro - 2012-10-22 18:29

    I agree - it's disgusting they were shot in the back! The number one rule is aim for the head - you want to minimise the survival rate. You don't take your trash out and then hope it comes back to cause a stink - you take it out and hope someone comes along to carry it away!

      juannepierre - 2012-10-23 05:09

      Haha - you are terrible... Terribly dark.

  • Gar - 2012-10-22 18:48

    They deserve what they got, how many people did they kill before this incident?

  • stavious.mamatepa - 2012-10-22 18:48

    So wheres that 80% Malema was talking about? Is 14 an 80% of 34?

  • tangi.amakali - 2012-10-22 18:52

    Whether the Police act was in self defence, life has been lost in the process, the same life the police sworn to prevent. It could be viewed different if the killers were civilian, not a professional law enforcer. Police should have acted in the interest of public order, to protect life and properties but strikers where not threat to any at the time. You can't just disperse for merely dispersing but when the event seem threatening properties or life. Police never acted appropriate, it was a reckless order!

  • thomas.visser.12 - 2012-10-22 18:59

    Did the miners cut up the police with rubber pangas

  • mojalefa.malepa - 2012-10-22 19:25

    Our police are cowards, always scared when facing a tough situation. Whatever happened to the teargas and rubber shots. But live ammunition at the striking miners? It shows that this cowards were only trained to shoot but not to disperse large crowds. Damn.

  • chrisbroodrykjnr - 2012-10-22 19:34

    THE STRIKERS SAW THAT THE INVINCIBLE WATER MUTI DIDNT WORK AND RAN FOR THE HILLS \r\n\r\nI stand 4 the police the striking mineworkers got what was coming to them. Cause if it was a pieceful strike y did they strike with assegai and knopkierries. That's a sign of agreesive strike...... Although I feel for the families loss. But if the police did not attack back how many more police would have been killed and whod the judge still call it unfair?

  • ryan.sthole - 2012-10-22 19:39

    How much are u widows looking for the govt will pay u.but thanx to SAPS minus 34 violent people. If u want something you must earn it not toy-toying for it let this be a lesson to the remaining violent community

  • lacrimose.wolf - 2012-10-22 19:41

    "unlawfully killed" is a premise not yet proven. When you're running pell mell down a hill high on adrenalin (and a few other things beside) and it finally penetrates your brain that there are real policemen shooting, you're going to turn around and run. And you could get shot turning and running. These people didn't come down single file and then quietly walk away.

  • John - 2012-10-22 20:18

    At last the truth comes out!!! Murdering thugs need to pay damages!!!

  • juannepierre - 2012-10-23 05:02

    Police are trained to handle these situations, if this was part of their training I feel the training process is flawed. And yes, these miners brought weapons, but they are miners not thinkers and since when do we kill people merely for being stupid?

  • stephen.j.dickson.3 - 2012-10-23 08:11

    What's all the fuss about???? They got it easy. I would of first shot them in both knees and then a shot to the lower gut and let them bleed out slowly.

  • ogodiseng.seonya.3 - 2012-10-23 11:22

    i dont like the direction adv ntsebeza is taking, but damn he can arguee

  • john.cryink - 2012-10-23 11:31

    That lawyer should go on tv newspaper and say what he would have done. They like to make comments how the police should have done it, but have lawyers got the answers?

  • liz.rudy.3 - 2012-10-23 11:32

    How would you react when an angry armed mob is coming towards you? Especially in light of the fact that two security guards and two policemen were killed days before the incident?

  • john.cryink - 2012-10-23 14:11

    Is there anybody in the law profession that can tel us what would they have done if thousands of ARMED strikers assended on them??

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