Brigadier Adriaan Calitz addresses uniformed officers at the police base at Lonmin's Marikana mine in Rustenburg, in North West. Screengrab: YouTube

Pretoria - The operational police commander during the Marikana shootings coached the evidence of subordinates on the event in 2012, the Farlam Commission of Inquiry heard on Tuesday.

Dali Mpofu, SC, representing wounded and arrested Lonmin miners at the inquiry, examined Brigadier Adriaan Calitz regarding the senior policeman’s address to police units which had been involved in the shooting at Marikana.

“One of the things I am going to argue about what you said at that parade is that it was intended to poison the minds of the police by suggesting what the official (police) line is,” said Mpofu.

“You were saying there is going to be this commission and our line is going to be self-defence. Your intention was to disseminate to the group that your defence (at Marikana) was self-defence.”

Mpofu read out extracts from Calitz’s speech to his subordinates, shortly after President Jacob Zuma established the three-member commission of inquiry led by retired judge Ian Farlam in August 2012.

“Self-defence, alright? So on that nothing, nothing was wrong. You acted and it was justified, and that is the commitment and co-operation that we are going to give to the people (commission),” Mpofu read a transcript of Calitz’s speech.

“What you were doing here was to say to the people (police), this is what happened. You were saying to them, what I have just told you now is exactly the commitment we are going to give to the commission of inquiry.”

Calitz denied the allegations of ‘schooling’ the junior officers.

“I told them you have nothing to hide, specifically to the TRT (tactical response team),” he said.

Unconvinced, Mpofu went on: “In pursuance of that argument, I am going to argue that there was no need for you to spell things out, apart from trying to be schooling these people on what they have to say to the commission.

“These people were there after all. You suggested the theory of self-defence to the members. You were schooling them,” said Mpofu.

Calitz said he went into a narration for the benefit of new officers who had joined the parade.

“If you look at my track record, there was never a time I was accused of doing such things. I totally disagree with you,” he said.

Mpofu said Calitz told his charges to tell the truth to the commission, not because of principle but simply because the Local Criminal Record Centre (LCRC) had gathered accurate information from the scene.

He read another extract from Calitz’s speech: “If you shot 25 R5 (rifle bullets), then say you shot 25. If you had one magazine and it was necessary to put a second, then say so. Why? Because the LCRC was on the scene, they have already retrieved the cartridges.

“The newspaper today is saying 400 cartridges picked up, it is useless that you say I only fired two shots. Do you understand what I am saying?”

Calitz insisted that “as a good commander”, he was only urging his charges to co-operate with the inquiry.

“I didn’t even know this video was coming to the commission. It was an address to my members. I believe that after that speech, all of them gave honestly what they knew to the commission (through sworn statements).”

Calitz was the operational police commander during the protracted wage-related strike at Marikana, near Rustenburg.

The commission, led by retired judge Ian Farlam, is probing 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. They were trying to disperse and disarm them.

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