N West top cop recalls Marikana strife

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INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPERS

Retired judge Ian Farlam. File photo: Oupa Mokoena

Pretoria - North West police chief Lt-Gen Zukiswa Mbombo on Wednesday recalled details about events leading up to the Marikana shooting in 2012.

She said she instructed her deputy to ask for extra manpower from head office after two mine security guards were killed.

The Farlam Commission of Inquiry into the events, sitting in Pretoria, accepted her affidavit as evidence.

Mbombo walked into the Tshwane council chambers' auditorium shortly after lawyers concluded cross-examining another senior police officer, Brigadier Adriaan Calitz.

Mbombo detailed in her statement how she drove with her deputies to Lonmin's platinum mines in Marikana on August 13 and was appraised about the “previous days' violent incidents” by Lonmin's security head, Graeme Sinclair.

“I requested a full briefing of the cause, extent and nature of the strike by the protesters. We were advised that (Lonmin) management did not really know what the cause of the strike was,” she said.

“During the briefing, it became apparent that part of the problem was Lonmin management negotiating a salary allowance with a particular group of employees outside the bargaining structures.”

Mbombo said she gathered that the problem had been exacerbated by “disharmony” between the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) and the rival National Union of Mineworkers (NUM).

“The Lonmin management further informed me that they had attempted, on various occasions, to solve the problems between these two unions without any success. I indicated that I would get the leadership of Amcu and NUM to attend a meeting.”

Lonmin management asked that police officers be deployed to the mine precinct to prevent further damage to property.

“Later on that day, I received a telephone call from (North West deputy police commissioner William) Mpembe who advised me that SAPS members had been attacked, one was severely injured and two had been murdered... Two of the protesters had been shot dead, apparently by SAPS members and another person had died, apparently as a result of being stabbed,” Mbombo said.

“I immediately returned to Marikana... and I telephonically got in touch with national police commissioner (Riah Phiyega) and briefed her about the incidents.”

Due to the escalation of violence, she instructed the security joint operations centre to formulate a comprehensive plan to prevent further loss of life and injuries.

Later on August 13, 2012, Phiyega arrived in Marikana with a delegation of senior police officers and was briefed about the situation.

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 the two policemen and the two security guards, were killed in strike-related violence.

The inquiry resumes on Thursday.

Sapa


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