Only 20 minutes for Marikana plan

2013-05-07 19:36
(Picture: Sapa)

(Picture: Sapa)

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Rustenburg - Police who took part in the Marikana mine shootings were only briefed about the dispersal plan for around 20 minutes, the Farlam Commission was told on Tuesday.

Dali Mpofu, for the injured and arrested miners, said this was insufficient time for a briefing for an operation of this size.

The commission, sitting in Rustenburg, is investigating the events that led to the deaths of 44 people during the wage-related unrest at Lonmin's platinum mine in Marikana, North West.

A total of 34 striking mineworkers were shot dead by police on 16 August 2012. Ten other people, including police officers and security guards, were killed in the preceding week.

Mpofu said that the 20 minutes which were given included the time it took for officers to walk to their units for the briefings.

Any questions and answers - if any arose - were also included in this 20 minutes.

Major General Charl Annandale, who was under cross-examination, said he believed the time was sufficient.

Annandale headed the police's tactical operations team during the Marikana unrest.

"I do not agree that there was not enough time," said Annandale.

"Although briefings can sometime take longer, I think it was sufficient time... I was not there, but the commanders would have had sufficient time to brief them," he said.

At the beginning of his cross-examination, Mpofu said he would submit that Annandale had a hand in the killing of the miners.

"One of the things we'll argue is that you, Annandale, played a significant role in the events that led to the Marikana massacre," said Mpofu.

Annandale told the commission that he rejected the use of the term "massacre" to describe the events that unfolded in Marikana.

"I don't agree with the word 'massacre'. It was a tragedy," he said.

Annandale said the use of the word massacre suggested that the killings were intended, evil and merciless.

Mpofu argued that the word was also used when describing the historical Sharpeville killings.

The commission was told some miners were trapped on the hill by the police.

"Some of the people I represent were trapped on the inside of the barbed wire [drawn out by the police]," said Mpofu.

No control

Photographs used as evidence in the commission showed that police deployed barbed wire barely three minutes after Joseph Mathunjwa, president of The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu), left the hill after addressing the striking mineworkers.

Mathunjwa left the scene around 15:40.

In some of the photographs, some of the miners are seen making their way off the hill, in the direction of their homes.

Police opened fire on the miners around 16:00.

Mpofu said had police delayed by a few minutes and allowed for some miners to possibly react to Mathunjwa's pleas for them to disperse, fewer people could have died or been injured.

He asked Annandale whether he was aware that some of the miners who gathered at the Marikana hill were there to hear Mathunjwa speak.

Annandale said Mathunjwa had no control of the striking mineworkers.

"It was clear that Mathunjwa had no control of the situation," said Annandale.

Mpofu criticised police for failing to wait for Mathunjwa to possibly give them feedback after he addressed the miners.

The commission was also told about a miner who survived the Marikana massacre last year, but committed suicide this week.

"We wish our sincere condolences to the family [of Lungani Mabutyana]," said chairman of the commission, retired judge Ian Farlam.

According to reports, Mabutyana, 27, was found hanging from a tree on Monday morning near the scene of the 16 August 16 Marikana shootings.

The commission heard that his family reported that this was his second suicide attempt since the Marikana shootings.

Read more on:    police  |  amcu  |  ian farlam  |  joseph mathunjwa  |  mahikeng  |  marikana inquiry  |  mining unrest

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