Individuals caused Marikana deaths

FILE PICTURE: Adv George Bizos, right, seen during a tea break during the Marikana Inquiry. Picture: Refilwe Modise.

FILE PICTURE: Adv George Bizos, right, seen during a tea break during the Marikana Inquiry. Picture: Refilwe Modise.

The shooting deaths of 34 miners at Marikana was not due to the police’s dispersal plan, but came down to the actions of individual police officers, the Farlam Commission of Inquiry heard on Thursday.

“Was it borne in mind that (the plan) led to the result which left 34 dead and over 80 seriously wounded?” veteran human rights lawyer George Bizos asked. He was cross-examining Lt-Col Duncan Scott at the commission’s public hearings in Pretoria.

Scott helped draft the police plan intended to disperse and disarm the striking mineworkers. It was referred to as the “Scott plan”. He said the Marikana shooting was not directly linked to his plan.

“It is not necessarily the result of the plan that I put forward. It is individual actions that it takes to pull a trigger. That is the question that needs to be put to each individual that pulled the trigger, whether they acted in self defence as had been briefed to them.”

Scott said the officers who shot the protesters should testify about the circumstances they faced at the Marikana koppie. He could not testify on their behalf.

“Where is the proportionality when there was not a single policeman with a scratch as against the 34 deaths and approximately 80 seriously wounded (mineworkers). Where is that proportionality, colonel? Bizos asked.

Ishmael Semenya, for the police, objected and said Scott had repeatedly stated that this could best be answered by each officer individually.

Bizos responded: “My learned colleague [Semenya] is wrong, with great respect. I submit that those who planned, those who adopted the plan, those who purported to execute it are all responsible.”

He questioned Scott about the police’s standing order 262. “Listen Colonel, the purpose of this order is to regulate crowd management during gatherings and demonstrations in accordance with the democratic principles of the Constitution and international standards. Did you know that?”

Scott agreed. “You think it doesn’t apply to the South African police?” Bizos asked. Scott said the police strove to be on par with first-world police services, but that circumstances at demonstrations varied from one country to the other.

“We also ascribe to human rights. We also try to police as best as possible in those ways,” he replied.

The inquiry, chaired by retired judge Ian Farlam, is investigating the deaths of 44 people during strike-related unrest at Lonmin platinum’s operations at Marikana, near Rustenburg, last year.

The police shot dead 34 people, mostly striking mineworkers and arrested 250 on August 16, 2012. In the preceding week, 10 people, including two policemen and two security guards, were killed.


today in print