Expert: Lessons learnt from Marikana

2012-12-14 18:03

Rustenburg - Weaknesses identified in the operation that resulted in the deaths of 34 striking miners at Marikana would provide lessons to help avoid similar failings in future operations, a police expert said on Friday.

Public order policing expert Brigadier Zephania Mkhwanazi was asked the previous day by commission chairperson Ian Farlam to consider what lessons could be learned from the failed police operation on 16 August.

On Friday he identified four points he believed should be revised.

"Operational commanders and overall commanders rely on tactical commanders to give information," he said.

In large operations, such as Marikana, breakdowns in this communication could occur.

"We need to work [on] that," Mkhwanazi said.

More "less lethal" weapons should be used, in case existing measures, including teargas, stun grenades and water cannons, failed.

"Always there will be a gap, [so] the best thing is to have more options," he said.

"If you fail with teargas, what else can we use?"

He also suggested that the operation did not adequately prepare members of the tactical response team (TRT), as they were not issued with gasmasks.

"Checking visuals, SAPS move back because the TRT were not in possession of that kind of equipment and training."

Protestors should have been warned

Further research into international police agencies' non-lethal weapons should also be undertaken, Mkhwanazi said.

Mkhwanazi acknowledged that the Marikana operation could have been conducted at night when there were fewer protesters on the koppie near the Lonmin mine.

Procedurally, police would still have been obliged to warn protesters to disperse. In the event, this order was not given.

Mkhwanazi said that it was difficult to remove weapons from protesters at the hostels, prior to the shooting on 16 August.

"It is important to know where firearms are kept... A hostel has a lot of rooms."

This step was intended to be the final stage of the operation to disarm protesters, which ultimately failed.

Mkhwanazi said he did not know why the hostel was not searched earlier.

He said police had not searched protesters who were on their way to the koppie, as this was not normal procedure in terms of the Regulation of Gatherings Act.

The three-member commission is holding public hearings at the Rustenburg Civic Centre. The other commissioners are senior advocates Bantubonke Tokota and Pingla Hemraj.

Thirty-four striking miners were shot dead on 16 August and 78 were wounded when the police opened fire on them while trying to disperse a group which 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 the mine.

President Jacob Zuma announced the commission in August. It must complete its work within four months.


  • JohnDough - 2012-12-14 18:53

    Slowly but surely I am getting gatvol* of this nonsense... sure, 34 people were killed but I once AGAIN ask: How many killed were actual employees of a mining company? Not all 34 from what I have heard, now we have to pay to console, accommodate and transport the families of non-mineworkers and that is absolute nonsense. They would not have been shot if they had not got involved. I have ZERO sympathy for them. Furthermore, why is the focus on the so-called "34"? What about all the innocents killed in the run up to this fiasco? This is nothing but a power struggle between Union factions and we as taxpayers are again being forced to foot the bill. *Gatvol – a classic Afrikaans saying for “Fed up”

      liesure.larry - 2012-12-14 18:54

      i thought "GATVOL" is a hole full of something....

      John - 2012-12-14 19:58

      You unfeeling thug!! I hope you and your family are subjected to the same form of constitutional democratic justice as was meted out by YOUR disgusting corrupt SAPS!

      arie.vdplaats.3 - 2012-12-15 03:15

      @liesure.larry. Congratulations - your idiotic comment eventually made the media. Next time try something worthwhile while you are about it - that is if you actually can produce something more worthwhile.

      gideon.walt - 2012-12-15 10:05

      They cant lean anything even if a book had to hit any of them straight in the frontal lobe!

  • casper.alant - 2012-12-14 18:56

    Rand RevoltMarch 1922 Johannesburg, Gauteng. 153 deaths. Sizzlers massacre 20 January 2003 Sea Point, Cape Town. 9 deaths. Bisho massacre 7 September 1992 Bisho, Ciskei. 29 deaths. Boipatong massacre 17 June 1992 Boipatong. 45 deaths. Saint James Church massacre 25 July 1993 Kenilworth, Cape Town. 11 deaths. Sharpeville massacre 21 March 1960 Sharpeville. 69 deaths. Shell House massacre 28 March 1994 Johannesburg. 19 deaths. Durban Riot 13 & 14 January 1949 Durban. 142 deaths. But yea, police will definitely learn from this one...

  • brendan.healey.315 - 2012-12-14 18:59

    Forget that.... do it again please !! Don't mind them not learning the first time !

  • danny.levin.33 - 2012-12-14 18:59

    Lesson Learnt: Scissors beat paper,Stone beats scissors and R5's beat muti. Nesst time leave the panga's at home, and the police must employ people that are trainable, then train them properly. Will any of the sides actually learn anything? I seriously doubt it. PS, leave the rabbit alone.

      bobo.jane.1 - 2012-12-14 20:33

      Ha ...Next time don`t try `n catch the easter bunny ! Bad Luck..

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