South Africa: Cellphone Footage of Marikana Screened

Photo: Werner Beukes/SAPA
Police at Lonmin's troubled Marikana mine in the North West, Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Rustenburg — Dramatic scenes, captured when chaos erupted at Lonmin's Marikana mine on August 16, were viewed on Wednesday by the commission of inquiry into the events.

The commission, led by retired judge Ian Farlam, is holding public hearings into the Marikana shooting.

The snippets of cellphone videos and photos were taken by a police elite tactical response team unit that intervened to quell the prolonged wage-related protests.

Police officers are seen lying flat, hiding behind large boulders at a koppie with handguns pointed.

One of the policeman shouts: "Stop shooting, cease fire."

Another one shouts: "Hey, don't shoot him, don't shoot him. Someone is shooting from that side."

Several lifeless bodies are seen lying on the ground, some on the large boulders of the koppie.

The bodies lay next to an assortment of traditional weapons including pangas, spears, sticks and knobkerries.

Some of the dead men had blankets tied onto their bodies. Paramedics arrived at the scene and attended to the injured. Some of the miners had blood on their bodies.

Numerous protesters are seen lying face down and circled by police officers holding firearms.

Before the images were screened on Wednesday, family members of the slain miners were asked to leave the Rustenburg civic centre because of "the distressing nature of the footage".

"To family members of those who died on August 16, at scene one (the place of the initial shooting), these images may cause them grief. Halt the screening of the videos to allow them (the families) to leave the auditorium," he said.

Only a few women walked out.

Wednesday's proceedings began with the screening of aerial photos and videos captured hours before the shooting.

The footage was part of evidence captured by the police and Lonmin security between August 9 and 16.

The three-member commission was announced by President Jacob Zuma in August. Its mandate is to probe the mine violence in which 44 people died at Marikana, North West.

Thirty-four striking miners were shot dead on August 16 and 78 wounded when police tried to disperse a group who had gathered on a hill near the mine.

In the preceding week, 10 people, including two police officers and two security guards, were killed in violent protests at the Lonmin platinum mine in Marikana.

The other commissioners are senior advocates Bantubonke Tokota and Pingla Hemraj.

At the time of the announcement, Zuma said the commission would complete its work within four months, and had to submit its final report within a month of completing its work.

"This commission will have the necessary powers, including the power to enter and search premises, secure the attendance of witnesses and compel the production of documents," said Zuma.

The hearing continues on Thursday.

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