Confusion among Marikana cops - witness

2013-08-23 14:31
(Picture: AFP)

(Picture: AFP)

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Pretoria - There was confusion among police officers just before two of them were hacked to death at Marikana last year, the Farlam Commission of Inquiry heard on Friday.

"It is our instruction that there was confusion among the police officers on 13 August 2012. There was no clear communication and no clear line of command between General William Mpembe and junior commanders," said Louis Gumbi, for the family of slain Warrant Officer Sello Leepaku and wounded Lieutenant Shitumo Solomon Baloyi.

Mpembe is North West deputy police commissioner.

Gumbi said he would also argue that police Nyala armoured vehicles were equipped with loudspeakers Mpembe could have used to tell the officers they were escorting striking Lonmin mineworkers to a hill near Nkaneng informal settlement.

Leepaku was one of the two policemen hacked to death when miners attacked police on 13 August.

Warrant Officer Tsietsi Monene was also shot and hacked to death that day. Baloyi was stabbed.

"I disagree with the statement from advocate Gumbi," said Mpembe. "Each unit had a commander and it was clear as to who was the overall commander."

He said he did not view the participation of his junior commanders as a conflict.

"I did not see it as a conflict. I saw it as a contribution," Mpembe said.

He said he met striking mineworkers along a railway line where police wanted to disarm them. When it became clear to him that the officers would not be able to disarm them at that spot, he allowed the police to escort them to the hill.

While this was happening, the mineworkers turned on the officers and two were killed, he said.

The commission was adjourned until 09:00 on Monday.

The commission is investigating the deaths of 44 people killed during strike-related unrest at Lonmin's platinum mining operations at Marikana, near Rustenburg in North West, in August last year.

Police shot dead 34 people, almost all striking mineworkers, on 16 August 2012, while trying to disperse and disarm them. Ten people, including two police officers and two security guards, were killed in the preceding week.
Read more on:    lonmin  |  police  |  mahikeng  |  marikana inquiry  |  marikana anniversary

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