Who gave permission to kill?: BizosComment on this story
The judicial inquiry into the Marikana shootings must establish who told the police to use live ammunition on protesting miners, human rights lawyer George Bizos SC, said on Monday.
The conduct of the SA Police Service officers was “unique”, he told the three-member judicial commission, led by retired judge Ian Farlam, at the Rustenburg Civic Centre, North West.
“We are going to call in experts to prove that what the police did on August 16 is unheard of in the whole world. We are going to ask for permission to cross-examine those who gave (the) permission,” he said.
“If you have 3000 protesting people on one side, some of them armed, and you turn R-5s and R-6s on them, that is unique and historically that is incorrect.”
Bizos is representing the Legal Resources Centre and the Bench Marks Foundation in the inquiry.
He said his team would present evidence to prove that the shootings on August 16 were acts of revenge by police officers, for the earlier deaths of their colleagues.
“Is it a matter of good luck or divine intervention that we have 34 protesters killed and not a single injury to a policeman?” asked Bizos.
“We have read many papers, maybe we have missed the part which says a police officer was scratched, never mind being shot, on August 16.”
Acts of revenge would not solve the problems of the police, workers, and the country as a whole, Bizos said.
Statements claiming the authorisation to use live ammunition either came from national police commissioner Riah Phiyega or Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa needed to be examined.
“It may be necessary for all the people concerned in this to be interrogated. They (the police officers) may have been influenced by someone in a high authority - the 'shoot to kill' sentiment.”
Bizos said it would have to be established why the forensic examination of the bodies found that most were shot in the back.
“Some of these people were shot whilst running away. Some were shot far from the place of the danger (a hill near the Nkaneng informal settlement).
“Who took that decision to shoot?” Bizos repeatedly asked.
Police have maintained they fired at the protesters as a last resort when the armed crowd charged at them.
On August 16 police opened fire while trying to disperse a group encamped on a hill in Nkaneng, killing 34 mineworkers and wounding 78.
The workers had been carrying knobkerries, pangas, sticks, and iron rods.
Workers at the mine went on strike on August 10, demanding a monthly salary of R12 500. Within four days, 10 people had been killed, two of them policemen and another two security guards. - Sapa