13 May 2014

South Africa: Cop Traumatised by Marikana Photographs

Photo: Werner Beukes/SAPA
Police on standby at Marikana (file photo).

Johannesburg — A senior police officer was traumatised by the photographs of his injured colleagues and miners at Marikana, the Farlam Commission of Inquiry in Pretoria heard on Tuesday.Captain Samuel Kay Thupe told the commission he was seeing the photographs for the first time and they were upsetting and traumatising him.

"The wounds inflicted on the bodies and the state of their bodies were bad."He said three days before the August 16, 2012 shooting at Lonmin's platinum mining operations at Marikana, near Rustenburg, North West, some of the officers were injured, but he could not see them because they were far away and covered.Dumisa Ntsebeza, for the widows of slain miners, showed a video of miners lying on the ground after being shot by police.A man in an orange top was among the wounded and struggled to sit up several times. He eventually collapsed while police were disarming the wounded.Ntsebeza accused Thupe and his team of being careless and ruthless for not offering the dying man any help while he seemed to need it the most.

"For someone who gets moved by photographs, you don't seem to be doing anything to help the dying man. You allowed him to die with no dignity."This man is being allowed by you to die without any efforts. There is nothing that shows that you care.

"Thupe did not answer and after more emphasis on the matter from Ntsebeza he was compelled by commission chairman retired Judge Ian Farlam to say something."I don't have basic first-aid training for me to be assisting the injured. I also thought if I try and help without training I might have aggravated the man's injuries," he said.His tactical response team, which he commanded, did not have basic first-aid training either and were therefore unable to do anything to help the dying miners.

Thupe and his team were also at Marikana on August 13, 2012 and saw miners attacking a police officer."I personally saw four strikers attacking a police officer, hacking him with a panga and stabbing him with a spear," he said in a sworn statement.He said his team of 10 officers received counselling and only two of them were declared fit for the operation on August 16. Ntsebeza said it seemed irresponsible that officers were redeployed on August 16.The commission is probing the deaths of 44 people during the violent strike. Thirty-four people, mostly mineworkers, were killed on August 16, 2012, when police fired on them while allegedly trying to disarm and disperse them.Ten people, including two policemen and two security guards, were killed during the preceding week.

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