Ian Farlam. File picture: Oupa Mokoena

Pretoria - Police interventions to curb violent striking Marikana mineworkers in August 2012 failed, the Farlam Commission of Inquiry heard on Tuesday.

North West public order policing (POP) commander Lt-Col Joseph Merafe was being cross-examined by evidence leader Charles Wesley at the commission's hearings in Pretoria.

“If you measure the success of the operation in terms of cost, damage to property, injuries to people and loss of life, do you consider what happened there a success or a failure?” Wesley asked Merafe.

Merafe responded: “What happened on the 13th (August 2012) wasn't a success for the police. Even what happened was not a success at all.”

The senior policeman was at Marikana on August 13, 2012, but was not on the scene on the 16th, when 34 people were shot dead.

Two police officers Ä Warrant Officers Sello Leepaku and Tsietsi Monene Ä were hacked to death on August 13, 2012, in a confrontation between the protesting mineworkers and police close to a railway line at Marikana, near Rustenburg in North West.

Three mineworkers were also killed in the clash.

Merafe said there had been random acts of violence before August 13.

“We would be mistaken if we say before the 13th, nothing was happening. On 12 August, 1/8mine 3/8 security officers were killed, their cars were torched and their firearms were taken,” he said.

“Information we received was that those security guards were not killed by individuals, but by a group. On the 11th, there was a shooting which took place at Wonderkop (Marikana).”

He said the unsystematic incidents were a build-up to the major clash between police and the protesting mineworkers on August 16, 2012.

A total of 34 people, mostly striking miners, were shot dead and 78 people were wounded when police fired on a group gathered at a hill near the mine while allegedly trying to disarm and disperse them.

In the preceding week, 10 people, including the two policemen and the two security guards, were killed in the strike-related violence.

The commission is headed by retired judge Ian Farlam and is probing the 44 deaths.

In October last year, President Jacob Zuma granted the inquiry another extension, which runs until April 30.

Since the end of January 2013, the commission has repeatedly asked for extensions to complete its work.