News24

Police: Marikana tragedy avoidable

2012-10-22 14:34

Rustenburg - The Marikana tragedy which led to the deaths of mineworkers, police officers, and security guards could have been prevented had all stakeholders played their roles effectively, the judicial commission of inquiry heard on Monday.

Presenting his opening statement on behalf of the South African Police Service, advocate Ishmael Semenya said evidence would prove that Lonmin, protesters, rival trade unions, and the mineral resources department could have avoided the August "bloodshed".

"At the outset we stated that the failure by other parties to play their roles cannot be justification for the loss of lives in Marikana.

"However, this failure cannot be ignored if we are to learn from this event and to ensure that they do not re-occur. This tragedy could have been averted had the parties involved played their proper roles," said Semenya.

There was evidence that Lonmin had previously struck a wage deal outside collective bargaining processes with workers in July 2012.

‘Lonmin caused this’

Later on, the company "steadfastly" refused to engage workers over another wage dispute in August.

"They (Lonmin) contended that the protest was illegal and they were not willing to negotiate outside bargaining processes. This inconsistent approach might have sent a wrong message to the workers," he said.

"The workers believed they could achieve much more following a violent protest. Lonmin caused this (problem)," said Semenya.

The company had not done enough, as stipulated in the mining charter, to provide adequate, proper accommodation for its employees. The mineral resources department was also fingered for failing to enforce implementation of the housing and living conditions standards developed in 2009.

"The apparent failure to monitor progress [on the implementation] could very well have contributed to the events which culminated in this tragedy," said Semenya.

He also submitted that prior to the bloodshed of August 16, violent clashes had been reported between the National Union of Mineworkers and the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu).

‘What about unions?’

"The question which arises is 'what role did the union leaders play to calm down the situation?'. We will argue that nothing or little was done by the leaders," he said.

Referring to the illegal gatherings which degenerated into the violent clashes, Semenya said evidence would prove that citizens’ right to assemble freely, "could not be ascertained outside the perimeters of the law".

"The carrying of arms [by protesters], charging at police, the destruction of property, killing of police officers and security guards cannot be justified in a constitutional democracy.

"It will be argued that unions have a moral duty to instil discipline among their members," said Semenya.

‘Protesters wanted a bloodbath’

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 security guards.

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

Comments
  • gary.desousa.7 - 2012-10-22 14:48

    Now the Company, unions,miners are to blame and the SAP who were called in I assume are blameless in spite of not been able to control. EVERYBODY is to blame for this tragedy. A Company cannot give wage increases to who they want? This inquiry must hear the evidence, make its findings and crimminal cases opened against all who KILLED others including the 2 policeman,security guards and anyone else. I hope the commission is assisting the family memebers of those 10 first killed with assisted travel, accomodation etc.

      bennie.kruger.5 - 2012-10-22 15:28

      Lets use some K logic. If the miners were at work and not infront of the barrels of those R5's they would not be dead. Thus it can be concluded that if you are in the wrong place at the wrong time you can get shot !!!!

      Rabbler.Rouser - 2012-10-22 15:28

      You left out the sangoma. You know, the muti man, the one that made them invincible with his magic potion. And of course, there was that damned rabbit. If those silly workers hadn't killed it the magic brew would have worked, without a doubt. In that case the commision of enquiry might have been commisioned to probe the deaths of 100 policemen that would have been slaughtered by a mob of angry miners wielding their assegais, knobkerries and pangas.

      bob.mcmillen.564 - 2012-10-22 15:33

      Gary, quite simply this whole tradgedy was avoidable, don't charge and threaten Police,with a mob armed with guns, pangas and knives, the Police are only there to try and keep law and order, not have their lives threatened by an out of control, violent mob.

  • adrian.tyler - 2012-10-22 14:56

    Zuma planned it to get more votes...

      john.kirkwood.9619 - 2012-10-22 15:17

      na adrian you wrong buddy, it was apartheids fault or there was a third force under the control of the old regime but definatly no fault of gov, unions or the striking miners

      tasneem.sattar.5 - 2012-10-22 15:38

      I blame the oppenheimers, johan rupert, and david cameron (the dirty imperialist)... an obvious plot by this third wors to keep the black man down. Most people make the mistake of thinking these guys spend their time running their respective companies and country, when in fact they're in cahoots plotting and scheming new ways to sabotage and exploit innocent, hard working, honest, and benevolent black man... sneaky russians!

  • Teuneman - 2012-10-22 14:59

    Yes it could have. If those miners were civilised. But we live in AFRICA!

      Andrea - 2012-10-22 15:49

      Oh ludwe, got your name of a very WHITE toothpaste tube, did you now? Darn these white Europeans bringing their western civilisation!

      lownabester - 2012-10-22 15:52

      "The question which arises is 'what role did the union leaders play to calm down the situation?'. We will argue that nothing or little was done by the leaders," he said." I blame the unions and Fatboy, Vavi not the mine owners. "

  • ludwe.maclean.3 - 2012-10-22 15:09

    It was not avoidable, if you say it was then you don't beleave in God. what happend was suppose to happen...everybody that dies was taken by the almighty so if they died it was suppose to be like that....we are all very sad about the sacrifice that had to happenn for the struggle of economic freedom (the lifes of mineworkers)but it just fuelled the cause for the struggle. so stop these petty politics and deal with the issues at hand...these is very serious

      bob.mcmillen.564 - 2012-10-22 15:37

      Read my earlier comment, of course it was avoidable, get your head out of the sand, you can't just hide behind religio, and what the hell are you talking about, economic freedom ?, it's your economic right to go and look for another job if you feel you are underpaid, it is not your right to demand anything.

      Mark - 2012-10-22 15:38

      So you don't believe in free will?

      Andrea - 2012-10-22 15:51

      ludwe,go back to school please, your spelling and grammar is atrocious.

      ludwe.maclean.3 - 2012-10-22 16:02

      It was not avoidable, if you say it was then you don't beleave in God. what happend was suppose to happen...everybody that dies was taken by the almighty so if they died it was suppose to be like that....we are all very sad about the sacrifice that had to happenn for the struggle of economic freedom (the lifes of mineworkers)but it just fuelled the cause for the struggle. so stop these petty politics and deal with the issues at hand...these is very serious

      peter.jefferies.90 - 2012-10-22 16:35

      @Ludwe, please stop preaching about your so called God here!!! If there was a GOD then none of this would have happened but there isn't so get over it!

  • phillip.joubert.56 - 2012-10-22 15:13

    Hope you also arrest the SOMGOMA terrorist that so CALLED make them all invinsible to the POLICE and THEIR bullets crap man they was ready for the police and was on the way to go for a fight with the police VIVA the BLACK POLICE OFFICERS that open fire on them they deserved wat come onto them DEATH / because they think they will come away with it. Hi your asholes investigating this case blame it on the BROWN EYES !!!!!!

      Andrea - 2012-10-22 15:56

      No, leave the Sangomas and other idiot beliefs, combined this will be the death of them.

  • ggsteele1 - 2012-10-22 15:15

    One Cannot protest "peacefully" with a panga or a knobkerrie in one's hand.....we all saw the video evidence, were they storming the police to deliver a peaceful memorandum, & what would have happened if the shots weren't fired?.....No death is justified under any circumstance, while tenderpreneurs and cronies reap the rewards.... Like Satre said centuries ago, "when the rich war, it's the poor that die!"

      ggsteele1 - 2012-10-22 15:19

      .....Sorry It's, "When the rich wage war, it's the poor that die".

  • piet.hannibol - 2012-10-22 15:16

    One thing I know for sure is we cannot blame the Police for this tragedy. Storm a fully armed cop with a deadly weapon and he will shoot you - no doubt.

  • david.stopforth.5 - 2012-10-22 15:17

    I must say if you have been in the police shoes you would also have responded as they did It is easy to gossip Get real!!!!!

  • mario.dippenaar - 2012-10-22 15:19

    Thank you Captain Hindsight! Another case successfully solved.

  • shaun.mossop.3 - 2012-10-22 15:20

    ...

  • Jeremy - 2012-10-22 15:20

    "The workers had been carrying knobkerries, pangas, sticks and iron rods." Yet the police opened fire on them with live ammunition. The fact is, the police killed 34 people because they didn't have proper training and presumably weren't issued with rubber bullets, teargas and water cannon which would have dispersed the miners effectively without loss of life. This is basically Sharpville 1960 all over again - and we thought we'd moved on since then!

      phillip.joubert.56 - 2012-10-22 15:38

      Sharpville my man police of that time could shoot my BRA. And surely that two POLICE OFFICERS on that day at Marikana they sharpshooters

      ludwe.maclean.3 - 2012-10-22 15:41

      don't try and use reverse psychology these will never be sharpville....and i wont even go into it....

      bob.mcmillen.564 - 2012-10-22 15:45

      Don't agree with you Jeremy, I would personally prefer lead bullets in my gun if I was charged by an unruly mob, armed with guns, knives and pangas, I at least hope this is a lesson to others who think they are above the law, ask a New York Cop how he would handle the situation, they tried the softly softly stance there a few years ago, it didn't last long before the citizens of New York pleaded for the old, no nonsense approach.

      norman.buchalter - 2012-10-22 15:48

      I saw debra patta's documentary on Marikana the other night. The ind=cident was filmed by various press groups and photojournalits. It looked like total chaos, with a situation very difficult to control. The protesters(whatever thier reason for protesting) appeared determined to be confrontational. The police appeared to use tear gas, which seemed to disperse a huge crowd of protesters which then stampeded. Some of the police were overcome by their own teargas. There seemed to be some contol from senior police who were ovrseeing the entire incident. It seemed to turn nasty at one point and the protesters who were armed with deadly weapons appeared to turn on their own and on the police. Faced with this type of chaos and without really knowing what was going on, and without a nice peaceful protest and with protesters coming from many directions, I guess some of the police panicked. whether they were all armed with R5's and pistols with live ammunition, there were certainly enough live rounds fired. If there were revenge killings for the 2 police hacked to death the previous week, well that is police brutality of the worst kind and revenge killing without ascertaining who the murderers were. I do think that the police wanted to teach the protesters a lesson that youcannot kill police officers in cold blood and to respect the police and to teach them a lesson they would never forget. that said, I agree that NUM, AMCU and Lonmin all acted in a way that didn't defuse the situati

  • johannes.ramara - 2012-10-22 15:25

    Miners , Lonmin, Mineral and Energy department , Amcu, Num all to be blamed. The police were there to maintain law and order. So stop waisting our tax money and put a finger straight to the perpetrators.

  • buti.lembe - 2012-10-22 15:27

    To kill a person or people is a serious crime. The only thing that we want as South African justice must be done to the killers of mineworkers, security guards & 2police officers.

  • gary.desousa.7 - 2012-10-22 15:33

    Muderous bastards,iliterate bastards,learn to read and write? oupaoumascheepers those are really intelligent comments and will really take this debate further.

  • phillip.joubert.56 - 2012-10-22 15:43

    Oupascheepers your comment on Jermey are the best so by far keep it up

  • jason.heineberg - 2012-10-22 15:47

    Step 1. Strike illegally Step 2. Aquire weapons Step 3. CHARGE AT POLICE WITH WEAPONS BECAUSE YOU ARE UNHAPPY ????? Step 4. Get shot Follow this formula. It's quite successful, you are very likely to get shot. OR you can be clever and not do any of the above. You are much more likely to not get shot.

  • peter.jefferies.90 - 2012-10-22 16:31

    "The workers believed they could achieve much more following a violent protest. Lonmin caused this (problem)," said Semenya @ Semenya you should have been part of the 34 people killed with a statement like this!!! Nobody has the right to get what they want through violence and if the decide to go this route they will need to deal with the consequences! This whole thing should not even be going this far! The miners chose their path and it ended badly for them not move on!

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