Ev­i­dence shows there was no need for cops to shoot – ad­vo­cate

The Star Early Edition - - NEWS -

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

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