South Africa 5.9.2013 12:40 pm

Dialogue with strikers was important – Marikana cop

FILE PICTURE: Retired Judge Ian Farlam. Picture: Christine Vermooten.

FILE PICTURE: Retired Judge Ian Farlam. Picture: Christine Vermooten.

It was important to convince strikers to disarm during the strike-related unrest at Marikana last year, the Farlam Commission of Inquiry heard on Thursday.

“To defuse the situation, I said that dialogue should be initiated and police negotiators be brought in to convince the strikers to surrender their pangas and spears… emotions were high on both sides,” Lt-Col Duncan Scott said.

He had arrived at Marikana on August 13 at the request of a Brigadier Fritz, who told him that two police officers had been killed and others wounded at Marikana.

Tactical response towards the strikers was ill-advised as it would have seemed police were retaliating, given the deaths of the officers, Scott said.

National police commissioner Riah Phiyega had been concerned about the lack of information regarding the strike at a meeting later in the evening on August 13.

“She was concerned with the lack of intelligence and answers as to why there had been so much violence,” he said.

Scott was central in drafting the police plan that was to be used in an attempt to disperse the striking mineworkers.

Several police officials who were part of the operation had referred to the plan as the “Scott plan”.

Scott joined the police service in 1986 and has since undergone training for various operations.

The commission, chaired by retired judge Ian Farlam, is investigating the circumstances that led to the deaths of 44 people during strike-related unrest at Lonmin’s platinum mining operations at Marikana, near Rustenburg in the North West last year.

On August 16, 2012, police shot dead 34 striking mineworkers as they attempted to disperse and disarm them.

Ten other people, including two police officials and two security guards, were killed in the preceding week.

Sapa

 

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