Nkaneng looting a Marikana issue

2013-06-18 21:38

Pretoria - Police plans to protect the Nkaneng informal settlement against armed protesters in Marikana last year were at issue before the Farlam Commission of Inquiry on Tuesday.

While North West deputy police commissioner General William Mpembe said the police's plan had included the protection of the whole area, the commission's evidence leader Mbuyiseli Madlanga submitted that: "... No provision was made for such."

The hill where protesters held their meetings during the unrest is in the Nkaneng informal settlement, near Lonmin's platinum mine in Marikana.

"The plan was to not let those protesters in groups through into the informal settlement as history has shown that, when in groups, protesters would go out of hand and destroy property," said Mpembe.

He said the police planned to search, disarm and arrest groups entering the area. Those walking alone would be let through.

The commission's chair, retired judge Ian Farlam, said it seemed there was no plan, away from the police line at the hill, to chase those who escaped the police and entered through other sides of Nkaneng.

Mpembe said the aim of the police was to search those who entered in groups of at least 10, so as to protect residents.

"We did not know where those who faced danger and reported for work stayed exactly in Nkaneng. We deemed it safe to not let the groups into the settlement," he said.

The commission, sitting in Centurion, is probing the circumstances of the deaths of 44 people during an unprotected strike at Lonmin's platinum mine in Marikana, in August.

Thirty-four striking miners were shot dead when the police tried to disperse them on 16 August. Ten people, including two policemen, died in strike-related violence the week before.

The hearing continues on Thursday.