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Pretoria - Police evidence suggesting traditional weapons were removed from dead and injured Marikana miners at the request of paramedics came under scrutiny on Thursday.
This happened before the Farlam Commission of Inquiry in Centurion as lawyer Dali Mpofu cross-examined North West deputy police chief Maj-Gen Ganasen Naidoo.
Mpofu, for arrested and wounded miners, was exploring allegations that the scene after the August 16, 2012, shootings had been tampered with.
“The gist of the SAPS explanation for the removal of weapons was to assist paramedics,” he said.
“It was even said some of the paramedics had voiced concerns about their safety.”
Naidoo replied that there were statements proving the medics requested for the scene to be cleared before they could attend the injured.
Mpofu said at scene 1, there was uncontested evidence showing that weapons were removed immediately from the miners' bodies after the shootings.
“That removal of weapons cannot be explained on the basis of some medics who were saying this or that because they (paramedics) were not there about an hour,” he said.
Naidoo said he could not explain why the weapons were removed from the bodies.
Jason Brickhill, for the Legal Resources Centre, asked Naidoo to explain why police officers who were “suspects” in the shooting had been allowed to work on the crime scene management.
“What I want to put to you is that the group of K9 members who discharged firearms at scene 2, including you, was under your command,” said Brickhill.
“The officers that fired the shots constitute, in theory, potential suspects in relation to the deaths that took place at scene 2.”
Naidoo said he did not agree.
“When a member responds to a crime scene and shoots a suspect in trying to arrest him, there are responsibilities allocated to him in terms of what the officer discovers there,” he said.
“If we are saying a member involved in this (shooting) should step outside the scene and wait for someone to arrive, that is impractical. We were not having an ideal situation there.”
The commission led by retired judge Ian Farlam is probing the deaths of 44 people at Lonmin's platinum mining operations in Marikana, near Rustenburg, North West.
On August 16, 2012, 34 people, mostly striking miners, were shot dead and 78 people were wounded when police fired on a group gathered at a hill near the mine while trying to disarm and disperse them.
In the preceding week, 10 people, including two policemen and two security guards, were killed in the strike-related violence.
President Jacob Zuma established the inquiry shortly after the shootings.
The public hearings continue.