17 February 2014

South Africa: Charge Top Cop for Marikana Deaths - Mpofu

Johannesburg — North West police chief Lt-Gen Zukiswa Mbombo must face murder charges in connection with the shooting of protesting miners, the Farlam Commission of Inquiry heard on Monday.

Dali Mpofu, for the Marikana mineworkers wounded and arrested in the 2012 clash with police at Lonmin's mine in Marikana, North West, said Mbombo acted recklessly during efforts to manage the violent wage-related protest.

"Had you not given the instructions (to police officers) on the 13th and on the 16th (August 2012), those 39 persons who died on those two days might still have been alive today," Mpofu said at the inquiry's hearings in Pretoria. He was cross-examining Mbombo.

"That recommendation (to charge Mbombo with murder) should be made because you acted recklessly. I will argue that when there was an option for you to take action when there were fewer people on the koppie you chose to do the operation when there was the highest number, many people (protesters)."

Mbombo disagreed.

The commission, led by retired judge Ian Farlam, is probing the deaths of 44 people in Marikana. On August 16, 2012, 34 people, mostly striking miners, were shot dead and 78 people were wounded when police fired on a group gathered at a hill near the mine. They were trying to disperse and disarm them. In the preceding week, 10 people, including two policemen and two security guards, were killed in strike-related violence.

President Jacob Zuma established the inquiry shortly after the shootings.

The hearings resume on Tuesday.

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