Police lied to Marikana commission: findings

2015-06-25 19:42

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Johannesburg - The Marikana commission suggested that the SA Police Service lied about its tactical plan to disperse striking mineworkers on August 16 2012.

"The police leadership did not initially disclose to the commission the fact that the original plan was not capable of being implemented on the first date and had been abandoned," President Jacob Zuma said on Thursday.

"In addition, police leadership did not inform the commission that the decision to go ahead with the tactical option if the strikers did not voluntarily lay down their arms and disperse was taken at the national management forum on August 15. Instead, they informed the commission that this decision was taken on August 16 and after the situation had escalated."

Zuma was reading out the findings of the report compiled by the commission chaired by retired Judge Ian Farlam.

The commission found that the police had drawn up an operational plan which entailed the "unsettlement of a relatively small group of strikers" who would be on the koppie in the early morning.

"The strategy entailed encircling the strikers with barbed wire and offering them an exit point through which they would need to move while handing over their weapons.

"This phase was only capable of being implemented early in the morning when there was a relatively small number of strikers.

"Attempts were also made to negotiate with the strikers by the police. The unsettlement plan was replaced by the tactical option which was defective in a number respects," Zuma said.

The tactical option, which led to the killing of 34 mineworkers, was implemented around 15:40 on August 16 2012.

A total of 78 people were injured on the day of the shooting.

"The commission has also raised serious concern that there was a delay of about an hour in getting medical assistance to the strikers who were injured at scene one and asserts that at least one striker might have survived if he had been treated timeously."

The commission found that the police operation should not have taken place on August 16 2012 because of the defects in the plan.

'Significant bloodshed'

It also found that it would have been impossible to disarm the striking workers and disperse them without "significant bloodshed".

"The police should have waited until the following day when the original unsettlement plan which was substantially risk free could have been implemented," Zuma said.

"The commission also found that the decision that strikers would be forcibly removed from the koppie by the police on August 16 if they did not voluntarily lay down arms was not taken by the tactical commanders on the ground.

"The decision was instead taken by Lieutenant General Zukiswa Mbombo, the North West police commissioner and was endorsed by the SAPS leadership at the extra ordinary session of the management forum.

"The commission also found that the operation should have been stopped after the shooting at scene one and that there was also a complete lack of command and control at scene two.

"The commission has also questioned the conduct of the police management during the inquiry," said Zuma.

Read more on:    saps  |  jacob zuma  |  marikana inquiry

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