Marikana bloodshed was unforeseen – cop

FILE PICTURE: Judge Ian Farlam. Picture: Refilwe Modise.

Police did not expect that protesting Marikana mineworkers would be killed in police operations during the August 2012 wage-related unrest, the Farlam Commission of Inquiry heard on Thursday.

North West police chief Lt-Gen Zukiswa Mbombo said the police intervention would have been terminated if the death of 34 people had been predicted on August 16, 2012.

“We had our regulations to disarm and arrest the people. I am very sure we would not have proceeded with that operation,” said Mbombo.

“We did not want to see any bloodshed. We did not want anyone to die. We knew that these people [protesters] were armed and had already killed certain people but we were not hoping for bloodshed.”

Mbombo was being re-examined by Ishmael Semenya, for the SA Police Service.

Semenya asked Mbombo to explain whether she had predicted “possible harm” to police officers during implementation of stage three of the six-point plan.

She responded: “I thought that there might be people who would not want to hand over their weapons voluntarily and that those people might want to fight. I knew that the police had means to deal with that.

“At times when we have to effect arrests, we deal with resistance. We do our work despite the resistance. The person effecting an arrest has to have the means to deal with the resistance.”

Semenya asked Mbombo to explain what would have happened on August 16, 2012 if the protesters had not “attacked” the police.

Commission chairman retired judge Ian Farlam reminded Semenya that it had not been ascertained whether the protesters had attacked the police.

“You know that it is an area of dispute at the moment, whether the strikers were actually attacking the police or were endeavouring to get through to Nkaneng [informal settlement]. You can’t put the question across as if that is an established fact.

“It is one of the matters which will be argued in the end and this commission will have to make a finding,” said Farlam.

Mbombo said in her view, there would not have been any casualties.

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

On August 16, 2012, 34 people, mostly striking Lonmin miners, were shot dead and 78 people were wounded when police fired on a group gathered at a hill near the mine. 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.


today in print

today in print