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'Marikana was no murder'

Marikana massacre site.
Marikana massacre site.
Image: File Photo

Police officers implicated in the Marikana massacre could face an attempted murder charges not murder.

This was said by retired Judge Ian Farlam who shared his opinion on the latest report on the killings of 34 Lonmin mineworkers in 2012 which was released yesterday.

The report titled "The sound of gunfire, The police shootings at Marikana Scene 2" was compiled by independent researcher David Bruce. It was released ahead of the nation commemorating the Marikana massacre's sixth anniversary today.

Yesterday, Farlam who led a commission of inquiry into the tragic incident, said based on the latest findings contained in the report the SA Police Service's argument that they acted in self-defence falls flat.

"The only defence raised by the police was self-defence. If self-defence fails then they are in trouble. We can say that prima facie it appears that the people who were firing into the koppie were not acting in terms of the strict prescripts of self defence," Farlam said. He said it would not be possible to charge police with murder because the element of common purpose could not be proven.

"But you can charge them with attempted murder," Farlam said. He said one witness had suggested that miners attempted to surrender but this could not be used against police because there was uncertainty as to whether police were aware of the surrender plan.

However, Farlam said they could still be charged with attempted murder on the basis that it was reasonably foreseeable that if they fired shots into the bushes people would be harmed. Bruce's report, which was commissioned by the Institute for Security Studies (ISS), delves deeper into what happened at Marikana's Scene 2 using various pieces of evidence including police statements, photographs and heads of arguments presented by lawyers during the commission of inquiry.

The report drafted a picture of the tense atmosphere during the days leading up to August 16, 2012 while mentioning events such as the killing of two Lonmin security guards on August 12.

ISS justice and violence prevention head Gareth Newham called on the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) yesterday to prioritise the case.

"The SAPS can only rid itself of Marikana's deadly legacy by taking responsibility for the unnecessary killings, with commanders and those who pulled the trigger being held accountable," Newham said.

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