Marikana cop concedes error

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IOL jan 29 judge ian farlam INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPERS Judge Ian Farlam File photo: Oupa Mokoena

Pretoria - North West police officer Lt-Col Salmon Vermaak erroneously marked the place where the body of a shot Marikana miner lay, the Farlam Commission of Inquiry heard on Thursday.

This emerged during his cross-examination in Pretoria at the commission's public hearings into the violence at Lonmin's platinum mine in Marikana in August 2012.

Dumisa Ntsebeza, SC, for the families of the dead mineworkers, was questioning Vermaak about the location of miners' bodies.

“With regards to slide six, where the body of Mr (Phumzile) Sokhanyile was found is between the tree and the stumps. We also see where you had put the body in your evidence,” said Ntsebeza, referring to an image of the scene of the violence.

“We hope to be able to get your confirmation when we submit that you were mistaken in your evidence when you said the body was found where you said it was found. Would you concede?”

Vermaak, police air wing commander at the time, said 18 months had passed between the day he saw Sokhanyile's body, on August 13, until he prepared the evidence he presented at the inquiry.

“I was asked after almost 18 months after the incident to point out where I remembered where the body was. I didn't make any GPS readings of where the body was.

“That is how I remembered it but now that you have showed me the pictures of the LCRC (local criminal record centre), I take it as correct.”

Ntsebeza said he was not suggesting Vermaak had lied in his evidence.

The exact location of Sokhanyile's body was critical to determine the authenticity of Vermaak's previous testimony that he saw protesters killing a man in a white overall, which Sokhanyile was wearing, on August 13.

Three miners, including Sokhanyile, and two police officers were killed that day when protesting miners clashed with police at Lonmin's platinum mine near Rustenburg.

Three days later, on August 16, 34 people, mostly striking miners, were shot dead and 78 people were wounded when police fired on a group of protesters gathered at a hill near the mine.

In the days preceeding August 16, 10 people, including Sokhanyile, the two policemen and two security guards, were killed.

On Thursday, Ntsebeza said assertions in Vermaak's evidence regarding Sokhanyile's body were improbable. Vermaak agreed and said the body of Sokhanyile might not be the body of the man he saw from a helicopter being killed.

The hearings resume on Friday.

Sapa



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