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Pretoria - The police exaggerated threats of violence they got from protesting Lonmin mineworkers at Marikana, the Farlam Commission of Inquiry heard on Monday.
This was the submission of Anthony Gotz, for the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union, as he was cross-examining police officer Brigadier Adriaan Calitz at the public hearings of the commission in Pretoria.
“We will argue that there are a large number of inconsistencies in the evidence in relation to these threats. We will argue that these so-called threats have been exaggerated,” Gotz said.
“It seems to me that at least two of those six threats in your evidence are based on hearsay.”
Calitz told the commission that officers deployed at Marikana
were threatened six times by the miners, led by Mgcineni ‘Mambush’ Noki.
“They threatened us, saying we should sign a piece of paper so that the world would see how we would kill each other,” said Calitz.
“They also threatened that we were going to die and our vehicles would be burnt. Colonel (Joseph) McIntosh tried once more to calm him (Noki) down.”
Noki, commonly referred to as “The Man in the Green Blanket” at the inquiry, features prominently in videos recorded in the lead-up to the shootings. He was one of the 34 people who were fatally shot on August 16, 2011.
Calitz said that, before the shootings, the protesters showed “a long firearm wrapped in a blanket” to journalists covering the protests.
Calitz was operational commander of the police intervention plan at the violent wage-related protest in Marikana.
Gotz said police were exaggerating the threats made by dead miners, including Noki, because they knew that “Mr Noki cannot come and give contrary evidence”.
Ishmael Semenya, SC, for the police, objected, saying it was unfair for Gotz to ascribe an improper motive on Calitz’s evidence.
Gotz responded: “He (Calitz) calls threats, things that are not threats. I said some of the alleged threats are exaggerated because of propositions I put to him in relation to his understanding of what a threat is.”
The commission, led by retired judge Ian Farlam, is probing the deaths of 44 people in Marikana.
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. They were trying to disperse and disarm them.
In the preceding week, 10 people, including two policemen and two security guards, were killed in strike-related violence.