Cop quizzed about Marikana firearms

2012-11-26 13:28

Rustenburg - A firearms expert of the SA Police Service on Monday gave evidence to the Farlam commission on the type of firearms issued to officers and their effect.

Warrant Officer Albert Wessels was cross-examined by Advocate Dumisa Ntsebeza, who represents the families of mineworkers killed on 16 August at Lonmin’s Marikana mine.

Since his initial day on the witness stand on Friday, Wessels has maintained that he was not part of the operation at Marikana and was also not part of the police’s probe in the aftermath of the shooting.

He said he was on leave at the time.

Wessels was questioned about SAPS firearms in general terms.

'Equally armed'

"If you are aware of the seven people [would-be robbers] that were killed by the police over the weekend. The police must have proceeded on the basis that they were dealing with people who were equally armed as themselves?" Ntsebeza asked.

Wessels agreed.

"In the SAPS, the R5 rifles are issued to all officers for day-to-day use in situations where a certain amount of force may be required."

Ntsebeza said: "I am not pursuing you in regards to what happened at Marikana but you can agree with me that when you bring R5 rifles you are likely to incur fatalities because those firearms are intended to kill."

Wessels concurred, prompting the lawyer to say: "These are weapons issued to members of an infantry, they are weapons of war. I am not going to say weapons of mass destruction."

Ntsebeza said by using R5 rifles in any intervention, the security forces or law enforcement agents would anticipate to kill the targets. "These are weapons you bring with the intention of killing the target. With the R1, R4 and R5s the intention there is to kill."

Capability to kill

Wessels responded: "It would be difficult for me to say but, yes, these firearms have capability to kill. They are used to protect the lives of the citizens being defended by the security forces."

Members of specialised police units, wielding rifles, intervened at Marikana to quell the violent protests at the mine.
Earlier, Wessels told the inquiry that for a person to die as a result of being shot, the actual part of the body hit was more critical than the distance of the shooter.

On Friday, Wessels said the R5 rifle had the capability to discharge around 600 bullets a minute, he said.

He also sought to dispel the notion of "non-lethal" ammunition.

All ammunition could kill though some bullets were more lethal than others, he said.

Public hearings

The three-member commission, led by retired judge Ian Farlam, is holding public hearings as part of a probe into the killing of 44 people during wage-related violence at Marikana, North West.

Thirty-four striking miners were shot dead on 16 August and 78 wounded when police tried to disperse the protesters, who had gathered on a hill near the mine.

In the preceding week, 10 people, including two police officers and two security guards, were hacked to death near Lonmin's platinum mine.

The commission was announced by President Jacob Zuma in August. The other commissioners are senior advocates Bantubonke Tokota and Pingla Hemraj. Its mandate is to probe the mine violence and the resultant killing of the 44.

Zuma said the commission would complete its work within four months, and had to submit its final report a month later.

  • seymour.white.37 - 2012-11-26 13:42

    Why are we still hearing about this? All we want to know about Marikana is who killed the 2 cops and the 2 security guards, and are they in jail where they belong? Stop persecuting the police for defending themselves!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      DrPaulus.Johannes.van.zyl - 2012-11-26 14:39

      AGREE. I wonder what would have happened if they issued the police with pea shooters and ketties and the mob killed 30 police officers. Would there also be an official enquiry? Probably not.

  • jackal666.daniel - 2012-11-26 13:50

    "These are weapons issued to members of an infantry, they are weapons of war. I am not going to say weapons of mass destruction." Mass destruction??? What an idiot!

      kala.bafazi - 2012-11-26 13:59

      I have a feeling his credibility has been mass destructed.

      DrPaulus.Johannes.van.zyl - 2012-11-26 14:36

      Also lol at this clowns comments.

      thomas.moloto.1 - 2012-11-26 14:45

      Tell me the 10 people died prior to the 34 were they killed by the police ?.If it was you in that circumstances were you going to stop the zulus after the used their intelezi muti? .Maybe you are a white guy you don't zulu culture.Stop to impose impossible to be possible

      DrPaulus.Johannes.van.zyl - 2012-11-26 14:51

      Ktmoloto - please translate to english. "Maybe you are a white guy you don't zulu culture" WTF???

      kala.bafazi - 2012-11-26 14:56

      ktmoloto - WTF is "Stop to impose impossible to be possible" (sic)?

  • kala.bafazi - 2012-11-26 13:50

    With lead in the head your just as dead. It doesn't matter whether its a 5.56mm R5 round or a .22 round, guns are made to kill. At least one of the miners was carrying and firing a fire arm and his intention was to kill. His only problem... The police had a little more fire power at hand.

  • flysouth - 2012-11-26 13:52

    I guess spears, pangas and hunting knives as seen in the hands of the strikers, are not intended to kill?

      thomas.moloto.1 - 2012-11-26 14:46

      But why ten people were killed prior to the 34 killed by the police?

  • kenpeg.dawson - 2012-11-26 14:00

    What whould you like to see the SAPS issued with when their lives are in danger and others are in danger. Pop-guns, Water pistols, Spud guns. Please no BB guns the criminals could loose an eye. YOU TAKE ON THUGS WITH YOUR BEST FIREPOWER AND WHEN YOU PULL THE TRIGGER IT IS TO PUT THEM DOWN SO THEY STAY DOWN.

  • nigel.burgess.334 - 2012-11-26 14:13

    Meaningless. This thing is going around in circles. Police have to be issued with firearms, all firearms can kill, and when their or others lives are threatened, they are entitled to protect themselves by using their firearms. The attorney could just as well be saying one firearm kills you 'deader' than another firearm. Well so what? To me the Judge should just silence the attorney on grounds of the fact that this line of questioning can't lead anywhere or bring any new light to the case with regards to whether the SAPS were justified in the shooting.

  • piet.snot.77964 - 2012-11-26 14:22

    All those weapons shown in the picture accompaning this article have the potential to kill - I must make sure if I ever needed an advocate I must give Advocate Dumisa Ntsebeza a miss - how does he become an Advocate with his logic or is illogic

  • thomas.moloto.1 - 2012-11-26 14:52

    Killing is a killing whether by police or public person.The different is the police kills to defend the lifes while public murders for joy and pride.

  • richard.falconer.391 - 2012-11-26 16:21

    Just shows, dont bring panga's, spears and knives to a gun fight !! ....... Seriously now !!!! ..... Fire arm's similar to R5 rifles are standard issue to law enforcement forces world wide. In my mind any strike, be it for wages etc, regardless of the union involved, does not have the right to bare arms, such as panga's spears or knives, as soon as this happens, it is no longer a peaceful strike, as now there is intent to bare arms, because these are traditional weapons does not make them any less dangerous or deadly, and there fore should be dealt with as a armed and threatening force.

  • koos.dabulamanzi - 2012-11-26 16:36

    this is so so lame as an x cop I always use to carry an R5 wth me whn on duty as my primary weapon and my side pistol,when u report on duty as a cop it is for the protection of civilians including yoself while carrying out those duties,it does not matter wthr u go attend a shop lifting complaint,domestic violence or jst an accident u must always be ready as a cop u dnt know wat awits u there have u heard of hoax complaints ppl make to ambush cops specially in Cape town so plz cut the cops some slack

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