Marikana plan had already been decided

2013-04-29 18:52
(Werner Beukes, Sapa)

(Werner Beukes, Sapa)

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Rustenburg - A police decision to end a gathering of striking Lonmin miners at Marikana was taken before the fatal shooting on 16 August, the Farlam Commission of Inquiry heard on Monday.

Evidence leader Geoff Budlender said this emerged in a Joint Operations Centre (JOC) briefing held at 13:30 on 16 August.

Provincial police commissioner Lieutenant General Nosaziso Mbombo had taken the decision and communicated it to her deputy the night before.

Major General Charl Annandale, who led the police's special tactical operations team, said on Monday he could not comment on the discussion between Mbombo and her deputy Major General William Mpembe.

The commission is holding public hearings at the Rustenburg civic centre into the events at Marikana on 16 August.

On that day, 34 striking miners were shot dead and 78 wounded when 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 killed in strike-related violence near the mine.

Budlender referred to a video clip and press cuttings about the situation at Marikana before the 13:30 meeting.

The video showed Mbombo talking at a press briefing in the morning, saying that police would ask protesters to disperse, and saying: "Today we are ending this matter.”

In the press clippings, police spokesperson Dennis Adriao is quoted as saying: "Today, unfortunately, is D-Day.”

The plan

Police had expected the miners to disarm on 16 August, after Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) president Joseph Mthunjwa urged them to do so.

In the event, the protesters did not heed Mthunjwa's advice.

Budlender said in other evidence before the commission there were indications police only intended to move in on protesters, referred to as "stage three" of the plan, if the risk of violence escalated.

"In the event, a decision had already been taken to implement stage three, even though no escalation had taken place... that was a deviation from the original plan."

Annandale said crime intelligence reports, although vague, implied the situation had escalated.

He said the JOC meeting concurred with the decision to implement stage three.

"This was her advice. I want to say [if Mbombo] says you are going to do it this-and-this-and-this way, we would not have done it if we were not in agreement."

Budlender said it was unclear whether the trigger for stage three was the protesters' failure to disarm, or an escalation of violence.

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

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