South Africa: Marikana Crowd Control Queried

Photo: SAPA stringer
Armoured police nyalas patrol Nkaneng informal settlement near Lonmin's Marikana mine in the North West on Sunday, 16 September 2012.

Johannesburg — Questions were asked on Tuesday about police planning before a shooting that left 34 striking miners dead in Marikana, North West.

Human Rights Commission lawyer Nokukhanya Jele was cross-examining public order policing expert Brigadier Zephania Mkhwanazi, during hearings in Rustenburg by the Farlam Commission of Inquiry into the events at Marikana on August 16 last year.

Jele put it to him that on that day there were about 170 public order police and more than 3000 striking Lonmin miners on the site.

In Limpopo and in Gauteng there were a total of 1314 public order police who were not called in to help.

Instead, other less specialised officers were called in to help, some from much further away.

Mkhwanazi said: "Advocate, as you said, if they were available. As I indicated from the beginning there were other service delivery protest issues that were taking place [in other areas]".

Jele asked him if the decision not to called more specialised police immediately had been a fundamental flaw.

Mkhwanazi said he was not part of the planning, and was unsure what the situation in the other provinces was at that stage.

"If there wasn't anything taking place there, this was going to be the easiest way to have members there as quickly as possible. Therefore if they never called them because there was nothing happening there, really it can be some sort of a mistake."

The commission is probing the deaths of 44 people during an unprotected strike at Lonmin's Marikana mine.

Thirty-four striking mineworkers were shot dead and 78 wounded when police opened fire while trying to disperse a group gathered on a hill near Lonmin's platinum mine.

In the preceding week, 10 people, including two police officers and two security guards, were hacked to death near the mine.

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InFocus

Police Come Under Fire at the Lonmin Inquiry

As the Farlam Commission of Inquiry into the shootings at Marikana gets under way, questions have been raised about police planning before a shooting that left 34 striking miners ... Read more »