Cape Town - Two aggressive groups of protesters had closed in on police and to protect themselves some fled and others opened fire.
This statement was made on Thursday by advocate Stanley O’Brien, who is defending John Geldenhuys, on trial for the murder of 28-year-old Michael Daniels.
Witness Sello Mosalo, who took part in the 2012 wage protest in which Daniels was killed, agreed with O’Brien.
According to O’Brien, the protest had turned volatile, leaving his his client no choice but to open fire. “Police were attacked with stones, sticks, bottles, pangas and other items. Protesters had stoned police. They had to run away because their lives were in danger.”
Geldenhuys is also charged with the attempted murder of Mosalo, Henrico Williams, Jonathan Malgas and Jerome Visser after he fired at them using live ammunition.
On the second day of being cross-examined, Mosalo told the Wolseley Regional Court that police had been standing in the road when protesters had closed in on them from both sides.
There were about 500 protesters and 11 police officers, O’Brien said, adding that 110 rubber bullets had been fired in order to disperse the crowd.
Mosalo previously testified that he had seen Geldenhuys kneeling and then opening fire at him and Daniels. Mosalo was taken to hospital and a bullet, allegedly fired from Geldenhuys’s gun, was found in his underwear.
O’Brien said Geldenhuys would argue he had opened fire at the feet of protesters when he saw one of his colleagues on the ground as protesters stormed towards them.
Mosalo testified that the protest was never supposed to have blown up the way it did.
He told the court that a group of farmworkers had gathered at the police station and demanded to speak with the police general.
“I went to where people were gathering. They demanded to speak with the general. The group leading the protest left and when they came back they said the general was too scared to come out. “That’s when some people tried to break into the shops and started throwing stones.”
In November 2012, farmworker protests took place and workers demanded their wages be increased from R69 a week to R150.