Condolences distress Marikana families

2013-05-22 22:21
(Picture: Sapa)

(Picture: Sapa)

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Rustenburg - Some relatives of striking miners shot dead in Marikana last year needed medical attention on Wednesday outside the venue where the Farlam Commission of Inquiry was sitting.

Commission spokesperson Tshepo Mahlangu said the victims were affected by remarks senior police officer Major General Charl Annandale made in the morning.

"They were overcome with emotions... following the awakening of wounds by Annandale's [words]," he said.

"Three of them experienced distress. One was stabilised at the civic centre.

"Two of them were taken to a local hospital where one was later discharged with a referral letter to receive counselling," said Mahlangu.

The third person was still receiving medical attention.

Annandale, who headed the police's tactical response team during the unrest, offered his condolences to the families of the deceased during his cross-examination.

The families of the killed miners and members of the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union walked out of the auditorium as Annandale delivered his condolences.

Annandale said: "My heart goes out to each and every family of anyone who lost their lives... I'm aware of the gap that this leaves in everyday lives."

Some of the relatives broke down as he spoke.

"My wife always refers to this as a ripple effect... I know that this is so much broader than a lover missing a loved one," he said.

"I know there were breadwinners, fathers, sons, brothers and also husbands."

Annandale told the commission that the lives of police officers had also been deeply affected.

Testimony over

Dali Mpofu, for the injured and arrested miners, and Dumisa Ntsebeza, for the families of the deceased, noted the families' grief.

They agreed the commission was not an appropriate platform for Annandale to have delivered his condolences and said a private meeting should have been held.

They said the commission had seen a similar reaction when national police commissioner Riah Phiyega delivered her condolences to the families.

Only a handful of the dead miners' relatives returned to hear the rest of the proceedings on Wednesday afternoon.

The commission, chaired by retired judge Ian Farlam, is investigating the deaths of 44 people during the Marikana unrest last year.

Police shot dead 34 striking mineworkers on 16 August.

Ten people, including two police officers, were killed in the preceding week.

After weeks of delivering evidence, Annandale concluded his testimony on Wednesday.

Phiyega was expected to be at the commission on Thursday so her cross-examination could continue.

Earlier, the commission was told that the specialised units deployed to Marikana during the unrest were given the means to kill striking miners.

Ntsebeza said the special task force, the national intervention unit and tactical response team were only armed with live ammunition when they embarked on the operation to disperse Lonmin platinum workers.

Ntsebeza said it would be submitted that the police knew the specialised units would use the live ammunition, as they had been trained to do so.

He said the families of the victims would not accept that the killings were unplanned.

"The families of the deceased mineworkers are not in a position to accept that the deaths... [were] something unexpected," he said.

Annandale denied the use of live ammunition was part of the police plan.

Read more on:    police  |  mahikeng  |  marikana inquiry

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