Retired cop says he's never witnessed anything like the Marikana scene

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Miners sing and dance during the commemoration of the 2012 Marikana massacre in August 2016.
Miners sing and dance during the commemoration of the 2012 Marikana massacre in August 2016.
Felix Dlangamandla, Beeld, Gallo Images
  • A former police video operator says the horrific scene that saw two of his colleagues hacked to death in Marikana was the first time he had witnessed something like that in his life.
  • Retired Warrant Officer Rapheso Masinya told the North West High Court in Mahikeng he had never before seen heavily armed mineworkers in his 29 years of service.
  • Masinya said people wielded many dangerous weapons near him, putting his life and those of his colleagues at risk.

A former police video operator has described the horrific scene that saw two of his colleagues hacked to death in Marikana as a first in his career.

Retired policeman Rapheso Masinya told the North West High Court in Mahikeng that it was the first time in his 29-year service in the police that he witnessed heavily armed mineworkers.

On 13 August 2012, two police officers were hacked to death by striking Lonmin miners and three miners were also fatally shot by the police during a violent altercation at Lonmin K3 shaft in Marikana.

Masinya was a member of the Public Order Policing unit deployed in the area to record events that were unfolding at the shaft using his camera.

"On 13 August 2012, I had been in the service for 29 years and two months. I have been to many scenes where people gathered, but never been to one like that one. I have never seen people wielding so many dangerous weapons near me, putting my life at risk and people including my colleagues being killed.

"I've covered protests by miners before and scenes vary from time to time. I have been to scenes where protesters were dispersed by the police using stun grenades and teargas," said Masinya.

READ | Marikana Trial: CCTV operator describes scenes where five people were allegedly killed

Masinya said when miners were ordered to disperse by the police, led by former North West deputy commissioner William Mpembe, they didn't run away as normal.

"Instead, they attacked the police. To me that was strange because two of our officers were killed. It was abnormal for them to carry dangerous weapons in public," Masinya said.

Masinya said at another scene, he saw his then colleague, Warrant Officer Sello Lepaaku who was severely injured, being loaded into a police vehicle and driven to hospital.

Lepaaku later died from severe injuries he sustained after being hacked by miners.

"Lepaaku was seriously injured and needed medical attention. Lepaaku was assisted and I don't remember who took him to the vehicle and drove him to hospital.

"After they had driven away with Lepaaku, I then began recording events. In the footage, I didn't record sounds of gunshots and a helicopter. I only saw a helicopter when it was airlifting Warrant Officer Baloyi.

"Another dead miner was handcuffed and the other who was injured identified himself as Xolani," said Masinya.

Mpembe and his ex-colleagues Salmon Vermaak, Nkosana Mguye, Collin Mogale, Joseph Sekgwetla and Khazamola Makhubela pleaded not guilty on charges of murder and attempted murder.

Mpembe and Vermaak were also each facing a charge of defeating the ends of justice and another for giving false information under oath before the Farlam Commission of Inquiry into the Marikana massacre between 2013 and 2014.

The trial continues on Thursday.

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