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Police video not seen at debriefing

Rustenburg -

A police video taken on the day of a shooting in Marikana was not viewed at a police debriefing in Potchefstroom, the Farlam Commission heard on Tuesday.

(File image) Ian Farlam. Credit: Sapa

“I can't recall that we looked at the video,” crime scene expert Lt-Col Cornelius Johannes Botha said.

Botha was being cross-examined by Lonmin lawyer Schalk Burger on a nine-day meeting held by the SA Police Service's top brass about the shooting at Lonmin's platinum mine in North West on August 16.

The commission, chaired by retired judge Ian Farlam, was probing the shooting where 34 people were killed and 78 wounded when police opened fire on striking mineworkers gathering on a hill in Wonderkop near the mine.

Botha said he was asked during the meeting about crime scenes which had been processed.

He said he could not remember whether his video was discussed. He did recall that photos taken by another sergeant were discussed.

On August 16, Botha was tasked with filming a dispersing and disarming police operation from a helicopter.

However, he did not have footage of the two shootings which claimed the 34 lives.

Botha said he only heard about the shootings when he was back on the ground. He said he only knew of one police video.

There were four other helicopters in the air that day, two of which belonged to the police.

Botha said he did not know whether they all had video equipment on board.

Burger asked him if during the nine-day debriefing if the shooting at scene one, where 16 people were killed near a kraal, was discussed at all.

“It was discussed... I can't remember specifics of what was said or who said what,” said Botha.

Burger also asked whether scene two, behind the small hill, was discussed.

“Scene two would have made you inquisitive because you weren't aware of what happened... As a concerned citizen were you not interested (in what happened there)?” asked Burger.

Botha again replied that he could not remember.

He said what was discussed was who was at each scene, but he did not know who those police members were.

Burger read through the SAPS' opening remarks given to the commission, that gave a breakdown of what happened at the small hill.

According to the opening remarks, an armed mineworker charged police and police reacted by shooting. This was said to be in self-defence.

Botha said he had heard this being discussed.

During the meeting, Potchefstroom police were putting together two presentations, one for the national police commissioner and one for the Marikana Commission of Inquiry.

When asked what conclusion the police came to at the end of its meeting in Potchefstroom, Botha said the presentations were not finalised.

Burger asked him what he took away from the nine-day meeting.

“What I took away was that it was an unfortunate incident, that 34 people were killed and police were involved,” said Botha.

Burger asked if police felt they had done well or had things gone wrong.

“I can't say that we did right or we did wrong; that's not my decision,” said Botha.

Lawyers for the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) also cross-examined Botha about his role at the Potchefstroom meeting. - Sapa

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