Over 200 R5 rifles at Marikana

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

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

Police at Marikana had 225 R5 rifles on the day 34 people were shot, the Farlam Commission of Inquiry heard on Wednesday.

“For the benefit of the commission, we have asked the SAPS how many R5s were on the scene that day [August 16] and they said there were 225,” evidence leaders’ head Geoff Budlender SC told the commission.

He then cross-examined Brigadier Adriaan Calitz, who was the operational commander at Marikana during the unrest, about the ammunition.

“Did you not instruct Colonel [Joseph] Merafe for [an] additional 4500 rounds for the R5 rifles?”

Calitz replied: “I did not give that instruction to Colonel Merafe on that day [August 16] as he says. Not at all.”

On August 16, 2012, 34 people, mostly striking miners, were shot dead and 78 were wounded when police fired on a group gathered at a hill near Lonmin’s platinum mining operations at Marikana, near Rustenburg, North West.

In the preceding week, 10 people, including two policemen and two security guards, were killed.

On Wednesday, Calitz said that during the week before August 16, police fired several bullets during clashes with the protesters and needed to replace them.

“I only told Merafe that all the ammunition that had been used needed to be replaced. I did not mention any numbers,” said Calitz.

The commission’s chairman, retired judge Ian Farlam, said Merafe would have to be brought to the inquiry to answer questions about claims that Calitz instructed him to get the additional 4500 bullets.

Calitz told the commission an R5 rifle magazine contained more than 30 rounds. Budlender said the additional ammunition was brought to Marikana on August 16, but was not used during the clash.

Earlier, Calitz said police crime intelligence gathered information that the protesting Marikana mineworkers would not voluntarily disarm before August 16.

“It was indeed said [by crime intelligence] that there were already 3000 people and they were not going to put down their weapons. They were going to resist the police and were going to fight.”

President Jacob Zuma appointed the commission of inquiry last August.

The public hearings continue in Centurion on Thursday.



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