Lawyer: Police 'deeply regret' Marikana

2012-10-22 12:11

Rustenburg - The use of "lethal force" at Marikana was a last resort, the judicial commission of inquiry into the shooting deaths of 34 Lonmin mineworkers heard on Monday.

"This happened despite particular scenario planning by senior generals," said SA Police Service advocate Ishmael Semenya.

"The police remained focused on one key outcome: a peaceful resolution."

Semenya said there had been no murderous intent by the police.

He was reading out his opening statement to the commission, detailing the police's case and evidence that would be presented.

On the day

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

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

Workers at the mine went on strike on August 10, 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.

Semenya said the police's evidence would show that some protesters had wanted a "bloodbath", and that the police had set out to perform to the best of their abilities in a difficult situation.

He said some police officers, who had been affected by the killings of their colleagues during the strike, had been removed from Marikana and placed somewhere else.

Two officers killed

Semenya said the police's evidence would show that before the shooting numerous attempts were made to persuade protesters to disarm themselves.

"They had refused and proceeded to the koppie, killing two police officers and seriously injuring one.

"They also robbed the police officers of two pistols, an R5 rifle, a shotgun, two-way radio and ammunition," Semenya said.

Teargas, stun-grenades and rubber bullets were used to disperse the protesting miners.

"None of these measures had deterred the protesters," he said.

Two days before the shooting police had been in negotiations with the mineworkers, and had asked them to peacefully disarm.

Semenya said that at 13:30 on August 16, police took the decision to disperse and disarm the protesters by 15:30.

They warned the miners not to breach a police barricade of barbed wire, but the miners refused to back down. They tried three times to do so, he said.

Even though teargas, stun-grenades, water cannons and rubber bullets were used, miners protected their bodies by wrapping themselves with extra clothing and blankets, Semenya said.

On their third attempt, the miners got past the police barricade.

  • hermann.hanekom - 2012-10-22 12:25

    And the whekkas and the liberals will still try to nail the police while politicians will try to capitalise on it.

      gustav.preller.75 - 2012-10-22 13:09

      I am not a whekka or a liberal, but what worries me is that only 18 people were killed when they supposedly "breached" the police barricade. The rest were killed between the rocks on a koppie that was 400m away mostly at close range. Survivors tell how people were shot while they had their hands in the air trying to give up to the police. The video footage also do not show any police in riot gear, instead they were all armed with semi-automatic and automatic weapons... I do not agree with the violent protests but to have policemen open fire with live ammunition on crowds makes me very worried for the future. After all, it was the anc who taught the masses to use violence during the apartheid years as a means to an end.

      mable.jacobs.90 - 2012-10-22 15:04

      Those miners are no different from criminals who tried to bully the mine, R16k, some university grads don't even get that...

      gustav.preller.75 - 2012-10-22 17:18

      @Bloodbane - I hear you. I am just as frustrated and pissed off with all the sh*t going down in this country. Aren't we suppose to live in a civilised country? Look at Europe for instance. They also have protests that turn violent but you never see the police open fire with live ammunition on protesters, no matter how bad it gets. My problem is that the police, badly trained as they are, are also not taught to respect life. Today its a group of miners in the middle of nowhere but tomorrow its on a campus and one of our children gets killed by some trigger happy cop who cant shoot straight. Just to make it clear, I do not condone the actions of the strikers.

  • derek.bredenkamp.3 - 2012-10-22 12:30

    What a load of blatant lies. You send your men to a strike with loaded automatic weapons yet claim there was no intent to kill??

      andre.vandeventer.16 - 2012-10-22 13:00

      Derek, it is very clear that you have never served in any force in your life before. It is only natural that you enter such areas with the required protection should all else fail. What would you do if hundreds of muti filled mad thugs rush towards you with pangas and spears? Get real!

      dave.leverton - 2012-10-22 13:09

      The police should be forced to use rubber bullets when the strikers use rubber machetes.

  • sthembiso.jali.50 - 2012-10-22 12:32

    Bit by bit of pieces of one story = news 24.

  • dave.leverton - 2012-10-22 12:35

    "He pulls a knife, you pull a gun. He sends one of yours to the hospital, you send one of his to the morgue!" - The Untouchables.

  • jacque.fransman - 2012-10-22 12:36

    Ja regverdig die polisie optrede ek wonder wat sal julle gese as dit een van julle familie lede moes wees sommige SAPD lede is gangster in polisie klere moordenaars

  • tshepo.maganedisa - 2012-10-22 13:01

    doesnt what you say contradict the statement of the comissioner and minister of police? they said police where within their rights to defend themselves and now you are telling us something different altogether, i personally think the comissioner and the minister must be probed - JZ institute a commisioner of enquiry for their role (its ok even if you dont give us the outcome but at least ill be in peace knowing that you once worked for your money)

  • jswitbooi - 2012-10-22 13:48

    bloody non sense , this are so called trained police and the last resort is to shoot and kill, you can through a fence to prevent someone from coming closer,many ways to do this, spray water,etc. they went to attack this guys in the field far from mines and far from anyone, just becos they sitting and gathering, not even six months into the new job minister of police, justify the unjustifiable.thats what happens when zuma decide to appoint friends into the positions, no accountability south africans we are treated like fools who cant think

      Jaco Botha - 2012-10-22 14:05

      @jswitbooi Amen

      coded.phunk - 2012-10-22 14:47

      before posting arrogant comments , you should at least read and understand the article. Police used minimum force \water Canon\ and teargas

  • molala.aphane.3 - 2012-10-22 13:49

    I honestly don't think state is going to shoulder responsibility here,let alone trust for the deceased for their upbring including education.

  • khathu.rasi - 2012-10-22 13:53

    Mxm sick people indeed, hadnt these miners went on strike, none of these would have hapened. SO the miners should be sorry for embarking on an ilegal strike period

  • bkuhlengisa - 2012-10-22 14:01

    The barrel language ws too loud

  • Jaco Botha - 2012-10-22 14:02

    34 was too little you say ????? here you are saying what the police did was perfectly fine with in they rights ,and yet the same f@#$kers is questioning why do these thugs (as you call them) killing your policemen its things like this and police brutality that built up to their own killing sad its always the good ones that get shot and killed

  • lebakeng.nchaupe - 2012-10-22 14:44

    i serve in the army if one ask me what should i hv done in those police shoe unlike thm i should hv shot 34 on my own.we can't excpt th police to use minimum force when thier life are indanger.just imagen this 50cops with R5 assult rifles has been killed by a mob with pangas nd iron rod.i hope thy learned their lesson

  • sbmafuna - 2012-10-22 19:14

    The comments (mostly) show me the state of the country I live in - and how sick we have become! By the way I don't see where Semenya claims the Police "deeply regret" Marikana as the headline suggests.

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