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'Autopsies show miners were fleeing'

Johannesburg - Post-mortem reports on miners shot by police at Marikana show that most of the men were hit from behind – an indication that they were shot while fleeing.

According to sources close to the investigation, national police commissioner General Riah Phiyega and her senior police officers in the SAPS were misled about events that led up to the Lonmin mine shooting at Marikana in North West.

File photo: A policeman fires at protesting miners outside Lonmin's Marikana platinum mine in Rustenburg. Credit: Reuters

A day after the massacre, Phiyega told the nation that she stood by the police and had issued an order to use live ammunition against the striking workers at the mine on August 16 because she had been told that the police had come under attack.

At least 34 people died and at least 86 were injured.

Insiders in the investigations into the shooting said post-mortem reports did not favour the police version of events - that they opened fired after being fired upon.

Instead,

“the post-mortem reports indicate that most of the people were fleeing from the police when they got killed.

“A lot of them were shot in the back and the bullets exited through their chests.

“Only a few people were found to be shot from the front,” said one of several sources, who cannot be named as they are not allowed to speak to the media.

Independent Police Investigative Directorate

(IPID) spokesman Moses Dlamini would neither confirm nor deny the contents of the post-mortem reports.

He said they would hold a briefing in Rustenburg on Monday.

Meanwhile, the Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) led by the Minister in the Presidency Collins Chabane has confirmed that all the post mortems were complete.

IMC spokesman Harold Maloka said the post-mortems were conducted by state pathologists and verified by independent private pathologists.

The Star has also established that striking workers in police custody since August 16 have opened more than 150 cases of assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm against the police.

The IPID is investigating these.

Sources said the miners gave graphic details of assaults while in custody. The men are in Phokeng, Mogwase near Sun City, Bethanie in Brits and Jericho police cells.

Insiders told of jailed miners being booked out of their police cells and taken to rooms in the stations. There they were allegedly subjected to torture and questioning about the circumstances which led to the deaths of two police officers who were hacked to death.

“These police officers who killed people in Marikana are desperate to find the killers of the police officers. They are so desperate that they do everything to justify the killing of 34 people.

“They even go to the hospital and arrest every patient linked to the Marikana massacre for questioning.

“The discharged patients would then be arrested and taken in for questioning.

“In most cases, some of these miners would be severely assaulted by the police wanting them to implicate themselves in the murders of the two officers,” another source said.

Gaye Davis writes that a report on the alleged brutal assaults could be handed to Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa as early as Monday or Tuesday.

Mthethwa’s spokesman, Zweli Mnisi, last night said IPID head Francois Beukman was “constantly updating” the minister on the progress of the investigation.

However, it was unclear on Sunday if the detainees would be moved to prisons.

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