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Rustenburg - Police officers fired 284 rounds of live ammunition on August 16 as they came under attack from protesting Lonmin mineworkers at Marikana, an official told the judicial commission of inquiry on Friday.
Lt-Col Duncan Scott was narrating to the Farlam Commission the police’s version of events of the shooting on August 16.
Police fired 533 non-lethal shots, while 284 live rounds were fired, said Scott.
Not all the bullets were fired directly at the charging protesters, as some had been fired as warning shots.
Scott said the bullets tally he gave on Friday might be less than the number of used cartridges collected by crime scene experts as they processed the scene, because some officers “were shooting while in Nyalas” (armoured vehicles).
Using a slide-show of photographs to accompany his narration, Scott said after police had returned fire with live ammunition at the first koppie (hill), the protesters retreated towards two nearby smaller koppies.
The withdrawing groups set fire to the veld to deter police from pursuing them, said Scott.
Police continued to follow the groups, with the objective of disarming and arresting them.
At the smaller koppies, Scott narrated a number of incidents where police shot protesters after being attacked. Photographs showed the dead miners lying next to weapons.
“A TRT (tactical response team) member shot and wounded an armed protester who charged at him from the bushes. Another protester was firing at police members and was shot,” said Scott.
“NIU (national intervention unit) members fired at charging protesters and killed two. Members of the K9 unit were shot at by an armed protester who was moving between bushes,” he said.
He explained that the NIU members also fatally shot a protester who attacked a police officer with a spear.
“In another incident, two protesters charged at police, shots were fired and one fell to the ground; the other one, in a red jacket, ran back to the group of protester(s) in the bushes,” he said.
“The same attacker (in a red jacket) later charged at police. Officers fired and he fell to the ground. He was taken to hospital with gunshot wounds,” said Scott.
Retired judge Ian Farlam, chairman of the three member commission, postponed the hearings to Wednesday.
The commission will continue with the police’s version when the hearings resume at the Rustenburg Civic Centre on Wednesday. - Sapa