Concern over SAPS inaccuracies on Marikana


Evidence leaders at the Farlam Commission of Inquiry on Tuesday noted inaccuracies in the police version of events during the deadly 2012 confrontation with striking Lonmin mineworkers at Marikana.

On Tuesday, evidence leader Matthew Chaskalson SC told Brigadier Adriaan Calitz at the inquiry's public hearings in Pretoria that the inaccuracies might have been deliberate.

"I have a range of concerns about the accuracies and I am happy to put them to you. My concern about the misleading statements and inaccuracies is that I am worried that they may have been deliberate," Chaskalson said.

"The first inaccuracy is that your team did not respond immediately to the departure of Lt-Col [Stephen] McIntosh. Your vehicle was in fact the last of the armoured vehicles to leave the scene of arrests to the north west [of the hill]."

Lonmin mineworkers had gathered on the hill during their strike at Lonmin's platinum mining operation at Marikana, near Rustenburg in the North West, in August 2012.

In contrast to the police version, Chaskalson said Calitz's vehicle did not head to the body of a slain former mineworker, Thobile Mpumza, 26, identified at the commission as victim C.

"Not only was your vehicle the last to leave, but it didn't even head in the direction of the body of Mr Mpumza. It didn't drive to Mr Mpumza at all, it drove straight to koppie [hill] three..." Chaskalson said.

"It also seems that someone in your vehicle knew that koppie three was a massive crime scene which needed to be attended to. Warrant Officer Nong was taking photographs of suspects at [ recording time] 16:25.22 and he was photographing dead bodies by 16:37.50. I have a range of concerns about those inaccuracies."

Chaskalson asked Calitz, as the Marikana operational commander, to explain why he had not taken steps to control his forces' "engagement" with the protesters, after ordering the confrontation.

"You just ordered your POP [public order policing] members to get out of the Nyalas under protection and to engage the strikers who had re-grouped and had been surrounded. You knew that the strikers that your forces were going to engage with were the militant group with firearms and traditional weapons.

"In particular, you must have known that the terrain at the koppie was much more complicated than the open area where you had arrested people in the North West. You knew that some of the members needed to be controlled on the use of force," said Chaskalson.

The three-member commission, chaired by retired judge Ian Farlam, resumed its public hearings in Pretoria on Monday after adjourning on December 5.

The commission is probing the deaths of 44 people during labour-related unrest at Lonmin's Marikana mining operations.

On August 16, 2012, 34 people, mostly striking miners, were shot dead and 78 were wounded when police fired on a group gathered at a hill near the mine while attempting to disperse and disarm them. In the preceding week, 10 people, including two policemen and two security guards, were killed.

Calitz was the commander in charge of the police operations on the scene on the day of the shooting.

The commission is expected to complete its investigation, including the gathering of evidence and concluding the public hearings, by April 30.