Dali Mpofu, SC, for wounded and arrested miners, questioned North West deputy provincial commissioner Maj-Gen Ganasen Naidoo on why police helicopters were not used to ferry the injured miners.
“I am going to argue at the end that the way the SA Police Service treated the injured protesters differed significantly from the way you treated other citizens in the same position.”
“That indicates that you, as SAPS, placed less store in the safety of other people who were not your members.”
Naidoo said he understood the assertion.
Mpofu cited the incident involving Lieutenant Shitumo Baloyi who was allegedly stabbed by the protesters and was airlifted to hospital in a police helicopter on August 13, 2012.
“That emergency rescue may have saved Lt Baloyi’s life,” said Mpofu.
“I want to contrast that with the situation where people were severely injured on August 16 , and there were actually four [SAPS] helicopters on the scene but it took an hour for those injured to be attended to.”
Naidoo said there were policies guiding the transportation of civilians in police vehicles.
“I am not contesting the fact that there were X number of helicopters there. Around the use of police vehicles, I know that there is a tendency of discouraging the transportation of injured people, non-SAPS members.
“Rather they use emergency personnel [transport],” he said.
Mpofu said it appeared strange that a wounded group of miners at scene two got medical assistance initially before the wounded group at scene one.
He said the miners at scene one were wounded around 30 minutes before their colleagues were shot at the second scene.
Naidoo was one of the lead police commanders during the intervention to control a violent strike-related protest.
The commission led by retired judge Ian Farlam is probing the deaths of 44 people at Lonmin’s platinum mining operations in Marikana, near Rustenburg, North West.
On August 16, 2012, 34 people, mostly striking miners, were shot dead and 78 people were wounded when police fired on a group gathered at a hill near the mine while trying to disarm and disperse them.
In the preceding week, 10 people, including two policemen and two security guards, were killed in the violence. President Jacob Zuma established the inquiry shortly after the shootings.