It's hard to imagine a story that could snatch headlines from Oscar Pistorius and Nkandla, but Lieutenant Colonel Salmon Vermaak has put the Marikana massacre back on the front page. The air-wing commander had a bird's eye view of the events and having broken ranks with the top brass, he's now flying solo. The dissident cop describes a Marikana operation of incompetence, brutality and cover-ups that reach the highest levels of South African policing. By GREG NICOLSON & THAPELO LEKGOWA.
13 August 2012, death toll: 10. Violence erupted days earlier when Lonmin Platinum workers turned on each other. The National Union of Mineworkers was fracturing, workers' committees were forming and the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) had been rising in the platinum belt throughout 2012.
Organised labour at Lonmin had fractured, turning the area into a battleground. But it was Monday the 13th when the narrative, forever tying the SAPS to Marikana, began. Police failed to disarm the striking mineworkers as they moved through the area, leading to the officers Tsietsi Monene and Sello Lepaku being hacked to death.
In an explosive testimony to the Marikana Commission of Inquiry this week, Vermaak, who was watching the scene from...