Marikana cops had a communication delay

2013-04-30 14:26
(Picture: AFP)

(Picture: AFP)

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Rustenburg - Police suffered a communications delay on the day 34 striking miners were shot dead in Marikana, North West, the Farlam Commission of Inquiry heard on Tuesday.

Commanders of the Joint Operations Centre (JOC) at Marikana did not immediately know that shooting had broken out at the first scene, a senior SAPS officer testified.

Major General Charl Annandale, who led the police special tactical operations team, said there was a delay between the first shooting and the JOC getting this information.

"The JOC would not know at all times what is happening on the ground."

There were officers commanding the operation at the scene.

"An operation of this nature [is] left to the people commanding on the ground," he said.

The commission is holding public hearings at the Rustenburg civic centre into the events at Lonmin's platinum mine in Marikana on 16 August last year.

On that day, 34 striking miners were shot dead and 78 wounded when police fired at them while trying to disperse a group gathered on a hill near the mine.

In the preceding week, 10 people, including two police officers and two security guards, were killed in strike-related violence near the mine.

Communication problem

Annandale previously testified there were problems with radio systems used during the Marikana operation which led to communications delays and difficulties.

On Tuesday, he said that ideally, after receiving a report such as that of the shooting, commanders would reassess and regroup before deciding on the next step.

He emphasised this depended on the particular circumstances of a particular operation.

Shortly before the commission's morning tea break evidence leader Geoff Budlender began questioning Annandale about the second shooting, known as scene two.

He said police evidence showed that around 120 bullets of 9mm calibre or smaller were fired towards protesters at this scene.

Quizzed over the dog unit

Budlender asked Annandale to comment on evidence indicating that the dog unit members, who had the least specialised training, had fired around 70% of these shots.

The most specialised unit for such an operation, the Special Task Force, did not fire a single shot at the protesters.

Annandale said in practise the situation was not a "clinical environment".

Also, it appeared the different units were not evenly distributed around the protesters, and so it was difficult to determine what circumstances they faced.

"It would be arrogant of me to make such an analysis without [having been] there myself," Annandale said.

He pointed out he could not rate the dog unit on the same tactical level as the other, more specialised units taking part in the operation.

The hearing continues.

Read more on:    lonmin  |  police  |  geoff budlender  |  mahikeng  |  marikana inquiry

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