Marikana top cop grilled

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Copy of adriaan callitz PRETORIA NEWS Brigadier Adriaan Carlitz giving evidence at Farlam inquiry. Photo: Etienne Creux

Pretoria - A senior police officer came under fire on Tuesday for a speech he made after the 2012 Marikana shooting, “exculpating the officers”.

George Bizos SC, for the Legal Resources Centre, said speeches made by Brigadier Adriaan Calitz and national police commissioner Riah Phiyega absolved the SA Police Service.

He was cross-examining Calitz during public hearings in Pretoria by the Farlam Commission of Inquiry into events a Marikana in August 2012

At the time, Calitz was the operational commander of the police in Marikana.

Bizos asked: “The commissioner’s statement was published before yours. Had you read it before you made yours? Were you in any way influenced by the exculpation of the police, by the commissioner, of all blame on the police officers regarding Marikana?”

Calitz said he had not read Phiyega’s statement, and had only heard about it.

“It did not influence me. My statement was about the operational debriefing and the motivation of the members on the events of the day,” he said.

Bizos said there was substantial concurrence in the senior police officers' speeches congratulating the police who intervened at Marikana.

Calitz said he did not remember Phiyega’s statement, and that he had told his subordinates they had put in “110 percent” in the Marikana intervention.

Bizos asked Calitz to explain whether he would have made the same remarks had he had the privilege of knowing the outcome of the post mortem, covering areas like the entry points of the bullets on the mineworkers’ bodies.

“What you told them in praise of their conduct would have important influence as to whether they were going to speak the truth or not regarding what happened. Did you realise that?” Bizos asked.

Calitz said his remarks had been solely based on information he had received at that stage.

“I did not, under any circumstances, speak about the death of the people. I did not say we had done a good thing. I said to the members we had nothing to hide,” said Calitz.

“As an operational commander, I was explaining in detail to my people. Nowhere did I say if someone has something to hide they should do so. If you say I was trying to hide something, it is not so.”

Bizos was referring to congratulatory remarks made by Calitz, and which were captured on video two days after the shooting on August 16, 2012.

In the video, Calitz is seen addressing uniformed officers at the police base at Lonmin's Marikana mine, near Rustenburg, in North West.

“At this stage, we did nothing wrong. From the planning to the execution (it) was 110 percent.... I have to congratulate you,” Calitz is shown telling the police.

“Exactly how we planned it and we briefed the commanders, exactly we executed in that line,” he said at the time.

Bizos asked Calitz to explain whether he would have made the same remarks had he known that a substantial number of the protesting mineworkers were shot in their backs or sides.

Calitz responded: “If I had known, I would have discussed it with them 1/8the police 3/8. If I had known about the 1/8medical 3/8 reports, I would have said the very same thing.

“I would have motivated them to come up with the truth,” he said.

The three-member commission of inquiry, which is chaired by retired judge Ian Farlam, is probing the circumstances surrounding the deaths of 44 people during labour-related unrest at Lonmin's platinum mining operations at 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 while attempting to disperse and disarm them.

In the preceding week, 10 people, including the two policemen and two security guards, were killed.

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