Pretoria - Several Marikana mineworkers were shot in the head on August 16 last year, the Farlam Commission of Inquiry heard on Wednesday.
“We want to show that according to the [post mortem] records, fatal wounds that were sustained by all the 16 people who were killed at scene were in the upper body,” Dumisa Ntsebeza SC told the commission.
Ntsebeza, for the families of the deceased mineworkers, was about to cross examine Brigadier Adriaan Calitz on the methods police use to quell violent wage strikes.
Before details of post mortem exams were read out at the inquiry's public hearings in Pretoria, relatives of the deceased were warned about their graphic content.
“The name of the deceased is Patrick Akhona Jijase, he was a 26-year-old rock drill operator. This report says 'gunshot wound in the head'. On the forensic findings it says 'shot in the back of the head, arm and chest,” Ntsebeza read.
Calitz did not dispute this. He said the forensic reports also indicated that Jijase's body had fresh marks made by a traditional healer.
“I hope the brigadier is not suggesting that the traditional marks were the cause of death,” Ntsebeza replied.
He continued to the report on 41-year-old Mphangeli Tukuza.
“The report says gunshot wound to head, entrance wound at earlobe, exit wound 1/8of bullet 3/8 over left eye. Two toes missing on right foot. Do you see that?”
Calitz said he did.
Ntsebeza told Calitz to ignore the post mortem findings indicating the fresh traditional healer markings on the man's neck, spine, knees, and legs.
Ntsebeza said the report indicated that the mineworkers were shot in their upper bodies.
Ishmael Semenya SC, for the police, objected, and said he was not sure where the cross-examination was heading. He said Calitz was not in a position to dispute the post mortem findings.
Ntsebeza then read the post mortem findings of Mgcineni Noki, 30. He was shot to the face, neck, lower limbs, and buttocks. Some of the bullets entered his body from the back.
He then read the details of other people who were shot in the upper parts of their bodies.
Ntsebeza asked Calitz to explain whether members of the police's specialised units were trained to shoot accurately, particularly when using R1 and R5 rifles.
“Given that the specialised units were in the majority there 1/8at Marikana 3/8 and evidence is that they fired at the people that they perceived to be attacking them... would it be fair to suggest that unless there was no other choice, the aim was to shoot in the lower bodies, legs, to incapacitate the people?”
Ntsebeza said to avoid fatalities, the police should have aimed at the mineworkers' lower bodies.
Police shot and killed 34 people, mostly striking miners, on August 16 last year. In the preceding week, 10 people, including two policemen and two security guards, were killed near Lonmin's mine in Marikana.
President Jacob Zuma appointed the commission of inquiry, chaired by retired judge Ian Farlam, last August to probe the events surrounding the deaths.