Rustenburg - Police did not believe Amcu leader Joseph Mathunjwa could persuade striking Marikana miners to give up their weapons, the Farlam Commission heard on Monday.

“Had you believed Mathunjwa would have been able to convince the people to lay down their arms, you wouldn't have proceeded with the tactical plan?” asked Heidi Barnard, for the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu).

She was cross-examining Maj-Gen Charl Annandale, who headed the police tactical response team during the wage-related unrest that unfolded in Marikana last year.

The commission, sitting in Rustenburg, heard how Brigadier Adriaan Calitz said Amcu had told miners they would come back with mine management to address the miners within half an hour. Amcu reportedly made the announcement at 1.25pm.

“The Joint Operations Centre (JOC) knew about this, but had planned to continue with tactical response anyway,” said Annandale.

Barnard asked why police had not waited for Mathunjwa to report back to them.

Annandale said a decision to put into effect the tactical response team was taken at around 1.15pm.

Annandale said one of the reasons for going ahead with the plan was that police had received threats from the mineworkers.

He said Mathunjwa had confessed to a police official that he was not in control of the situation.

The mood of the protesters had also changed and they appeared more aggressive, he said.

Barnard concluded her cross-examination, and Dumisa Ntsebeza, for the families of the dead miners, began questioning Annandale.

The commission, chaired by retired judge Ian Farlam, is investigating the circumstances surrounding the deaths of 44 people killed in the unrest last year.

Police shot dead 34 striking mineworkers in Marikana on August 16. Ten people, including two police officers, were killed in the preceding week.

Sapa