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SAPS to blame for Marikana massacre

Cape Town - The tactical response option adopted by SA Police Service management on August 16, 2012, which resulted in the deaths of 34 miners at Marikana, was severely criticised by a commission of inquiry which investigated the tragedy, President Jacob Zuma said on Thursday.

“The commission has found that it would have been impossible to disarm and disperse the strikers without significant bloodshed on the afternoon of the 16 August,” Zuma said while releasing a summary of the Marikana report in a televised address.

Summarising the report, President Zuma said police had jumped the gun and it was likely that waiting one more day, instead of storming the hill near Lonmin's Marikana mine on the 16th, could have prevented the strikers' deaths. File photo: Siphiwe Sibeko. Credit: REUTERS

“The police should have waited until the following day when the original unsettlement plan which was substantially risk-free could have been implemented.”

The Marikana commission blamed North West provincial police commissioner Zukiswa Mbombo, as well as the national SAPS management team, for taking the wrong decisions on August 16.

“The commission also found that the decision that the strikers would be forcibly removed from the koppie by the police on the 16 August [2012] if they did not voluntarily lay down their arms, was not taken by the tactical commander on the ground,” Zuma said.

“The decision was, instead, taken by lieutenant-general Mbombo…and was endorsed by the SAPS leadership at the extraordinary session of the management forum.”

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