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Marikana shootings ‘was not revenge’

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iol news pic Judge Ian Farlam

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File image - Honourable Judge Ian Gordon Farlam during the public hearing of the Marikana Commission of Enquiry to investigate the Marikana tragedy at which 44 people were killed and scores injured. Picture: Dumisani Sibeko

Pretoria - Shooting striking mineworkers was not revenge for the earlier killing of two police officers in Marikana, the Farlam Commission of Inquiry heard on Tuesday.

Brigadier Adriaan Calitz, the police operational commander during the intervention at Marikana in August 2012, said the shooting was not caused by a need to avenge the slaying of the police officers.

“In my experience, I have handled many cases and incidents. It was never the position of the police to take revenge. We are well trained by our commanders,” Calitz said.

“I was trained in public policing. Revenge could not have been an option.”

Warrant Officers Sello Lepaku and Tsietsi Monene were shot and hacked to death on August 13, 2012, allegedly by protesting miners. Lieutenant Shitumo Solomon Baloyi was stabbed.

The three-member commission of inquiry, chaired by retired judge Ian Farlam, is probing the deaths of 44 people during the labour-related unrest at Lonmin's platinum mining operations at Marikana, near Rustenburg, in North West.

On August 16, 2012, 34 people, mostly striking miners, were shot dead and 78 people were wounded when the police fired on a group gathered at a hill near the mine while attempting to disperse and disarm them. In the preceding week, 10 people, including the two policemen and two security guards, were killed.

On Tuesday, Farlam asked Calitz to explain whether graphic photographs of the hacked policemen had been distributed and circulated among police officers at Marikana.

“I am not aware (of the circulation of the pictures). We surely would have arranged trauma counselling to motivate the members who saw the photos. We would also have warned them that even after the incidents, they should act professionally.

“We would have given leadership to the juniors,” said Calitz.

Co-commissioner Pingla Hemraj SC, asked Calitz to explain the mood among the police officers, particularly on August 14, the day after the policemen's murder.

“Among the members under your command, did you sense unease, dissatisfaction and agitation regarding what had happened on the 13th? Hemraj asked.

“There was a feeling of shock among the members. They went to their normal duties. There were no further discussions about it. We did not take it further than that,” said Calitz.

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