Evidence shows there was no need for cops to shoot – advocate
STRIKERS never posed a threat to the police’s tactical response team (TRT) on August 16 when 34 miners were killed at Marikana, the Farlam Commission of Inquiry heard yesterday.
“The killings were a result of police using completely disproportionate force on August 16,” said advocate Dumisa Ntsebeza SC, for the families of the miners killed in the 2012 strike.
“All the people who were shot… were shot multiple times with a fatal wound being to their upper body, which is why we making the point about disproportionate force.” He mentioned the names of several miners killed whose bodies were evidence of that.
Ntsebeza said TRT officers continued to fire after any perceived threat could be seen.
“It was clear even after the first volley that there is no justification for any firing at mineworkers beyond the first three seconds, even assuming there was justification for firing within those first three seconds.”
Ntsebeza said even if there had been a real or perceived threat to the TRT line, the violence remained disproportionate.
He said there never had been a threat. “The strikers never posed any threat to the TRT line… in terms of the distance where they were found, and their deaths were clearly unlawful.”
Ntsebeza said the R5 rifle used was a powerful weapon, lethal from at certain distance, which was a representation of the disproportionate nature of the force used.
For the four miners killed on August 13, Ntsebeza said the police had instigated the confrontation.
“It is clear to us the strikers were walking peacefully in the direction of the koppie when there was this unprovoked attack on them by means of teargas and stun grenades, and it is even so that they had not changed their direction (from) the informal settlements.
“The subsequent discharge of teargas and stun grenades by the SAPS was unprovoked, unnecessary and without reason.”
Ntsebeza also asserted that police did little, if anything, to help those they had wounded.
“There is that spectacle of the man writhing with pain who dies a horrible death. In fact when his family see how he dies, they get reduced to painful tears because he dies in circumstances where people are milling around.
“What we see there is this callousness, this absolute disregard for people who have been injured.”
Ntsebeza showed graphic photos of four miners shot on August 16. Three of the miners’ faces were disfigured beyond recognition. One of them had wounds all over his body, even though he had been 30m away from police.
Several family members looked away, shielding their eyes as the pictures were shown.
In another photo, a miner was slumped on the ground; a hole in his neck and a visible blood trail could be seen.
The commission is investigating the deaths of 44 people at Lonmin’s platinum mining operations in Marikana, North West, in the strike-related unrest in August 2012. Thirty-four people, mostly striking mineworkers, were shot dead in a clash with police on August 16, 2012. In the preceding week, 10 people were killed. – Sapa