Journo’s Marikana story questioned

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lonmin protest outside court

INLSA

Striking Lonmin mineworkers protest outside the Ga-Rankuwa Magistrate's Court for the immediate release of those arrested after the Marikana shooting. Photo: Phill Magakoe

Johannesburg - The credibility of an article suggesting miners in Marikana were shot at close range and driven over was extremely worrying, the Institute of Security Studies said on Friday.

“I find this story so wild in terms of its accusations and assumptions... it discredits the whole story,” senior researcher Johan Burger said.

“I wouldn't want to comment on it. I don't want to give it any further credence.”

Photojournalist Greg Marinovich on Thursday claimed - in an article published on the Daily Maverick website - that some of the striking workers killed at Lonmin's platinum mine appeared to have been shot at close range, or crushed by Nyala police vehicles.

On August 16, 34 striking miners were shot dead in a confrontation with police trying to disperse them at the mine, in Marikana near Rustenburg in the North West. Another 78 were injured.

Marinovich, who scoured the crime scene at Marikana, wrote that most of those who died, according to the surviving strikers and researchers, were killed beyond the view of cameras at a collection of boulders about 300m behind Wonderkop.

According to Marinovich, the miners had no escape route and were shot at close range.

A surviving mineworker told him that as the men were coming down from the hill where they had gathered, the shooting began.

“We ran until we got to the meeting spot and watched the incidents at the koppie,” the miner was quoted as saying.

“Two helicopters landed; soldiers and police surrounded the area. We never saw anyone coming out of the koppie.”

The mineworker said injured miners, who he had visited in hospital, had been shot in the back, or had been run over by Nyalas.

Peter Alexander, professor of sociology at the University of Johannesburg, and two researchers, also interviewed witnesses.

According to Marinovich, a miner told researcher Botsong Mmope that miners who ran towards the koppie decided to lie down, thinking that if they did the police would not shoot them.

“At that time, there were bullets coming from a helicopter above them... He (the miner) says he watched Nyalas driving over the prostrate, living miners,” Mmope was quoted as saying.

Burger said if there was any truth to these allegations he was sure the judicial commission of inquiry, appointed by President Jacob Zuma, would investigate this.

“Members of the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) were on the scene doing the necessary investigations. I am fairly happy that those guys treated the crime scene with the necessary professionalism. I wonder if the author (Marinovich) discussed this with the Ipid?”

Burger said a high-profile Ipid delegation investigated the scene.

“I got the impression they sent a high-profile delegation and did everything possible to make sure it was properly handled.”

Ipid spokesman Moses Dlamini said the directorate would not comment on the shooting or any allegations until its investigation was complete.

He said they would co-operate with the commission of inquiry and provide it with information. - Sapa


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