13 March 2014

South Africa: Shot Miners Were Running Away - Lawyer

Photo: SAPA stringer
Police on the scene at Lonmin platinum mine in Marikana (file photo).

Pretoria — Protesting Marikana miners were shot by police while they were fleeing on August 16, 2012, the Farlam Commission of Inquiry heard on Wednesday.

Citing the names of some of the slain miners, Dumisa Ntsebeza SC, for families of the deceased miners, said evidence gathered from the scene gave clues which depicted how the protesters died.

"With relevance to the position in which Mr [Thabiso Johannes] Thelejane's body was lying, our argument will be that at its very least, it appears as though he was running away from the NIU [police national intervention unit]," said Ntsebeza.

He was cross-examining North West deputy provincial commissioner Maj-Gen Ganasen Naidoo. The senior policeman said he did not want to comment on Ntsebeza's assertion.

Ntsebeza also presented an exhibit of several pictures and an analysis of the directions from which bullets hit the body of dead miner Anele Mdizeni.

"The point we are making here is that there were no traditional weapons found there [near the body] and it will be our argument that it is unlikely that Mdizeni was shot and eventually died as he was charging at the police's NIU line," said Ntsebeza.

Naidoo said he had arrived at the scene after the shootings.

"The issue of the [traditional] weapons, the various NIU members who secured the scene and removed the prisoners, we can ascertain from them what exactly occurred."

"Other than that, I will not be able to comment on the proposition," said Naidoo.

Ntsebeza read out details of Mdizeni's multiple injuries, including numerous abrasions all over his body. He said forensic analysis revealed that Mdizeni's spinal column had been shattered.

"There has to be an explanation of where these abrasions came from," said Ntsebeza.

"Our argument will be that the facts we see in the slides are inconsistent with any suggestion that Mr Mdizeni was charging at SA Police Service members when he was shot."

Naidoo said he was not on the scene when the miners were killed. He said he did not see any of the miners' bodies being dragged by police officers.

A compilation of pictures captured at the shooting scene shows that there were several cable ties around Mdizeni's body. The cable ties had been used and cut.

The commission is probing the deaths of 44 people at Lonmin's platinum mining operations in Marikana, near Rustenburg, North West.

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 while trying to disarm and disperse them.

In the preceding week, 10 people, including two policemen and two security guards, were killed in the strike-related violence.

President Jacob Zuma established the inquiry shortly after the shootings.

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