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Let the Farlam Commission decide

Opinion,Gia Nicolaides
Gia Nicolaides
Opinion

Reports that journalists were slack in their coverage of the Marikana massacre are unfair - Gia Nicolaides.


There's no doubt that things went terribly wrong in Marikana, but that is exactly why the Farlam Commission of Inquiry has been appointed.

The latest footage to make headlines from the day of the shooting, when 34 miners were killed, supposedly tells a very different story to the one of self-defence that police are telling.

British News station Channel 4 suggests that this footage, taken by police officers on their cell phones, was recently discovered. This is not true. It was shown at the Inquiry on the 21st of November last year and broadcast on South African news channels. Admittedly there may have been parts that were not shown at the Inquiry, but when I saw British Journalist Inigo Gilmore's latest video report I immediately recognised it.

The issue I have, one that has also been raised by the Commission, is that certain conclusions have been drawn from the footage and reported on as fact. One thing that I am certain about is that the conversation between the officers on the video is barely audible. Special audio programs and translators may have been able to decipher what was said, but I don't think any of this has been put into context.

There's a very high possibility that one of the officers did in fact say, “That mother****er, I shot him at least 10 times!” However, to draw such conclusions while the commission is still hearing testimony and collecting evidence is premature. Broadcasting this footage in the U.K. has probably damaged the police's case.

I remain unbiased about the situation, even though I witnessed the shooting and have been covering the Inquiry from the start. I do, however, believe it is up to the Commission at this point to draw conclusions and come up with recommendations. Retired Judge Ian Farlam echoed these sentiments after hearing about the footage broadcast in Britain.

The footage, which was shown on South African television, was reported on extensively and I know that journalists covering this story haven't taken lightly to Greg Marinovich's article, where he states Inigo Gilmore "came to certain conclusions, including one that South African journos are more than a little slack."

If there was in fact a deliberate "mass murder" on the small koppie where the majority of miners were killed, surely the Inquiry will be able to reveal this? I'm not saying that these reports are untrue, but before anyone comes to a conclusion and leaves the police with blood on their hands, the Inquiry should finish what it has been tasked with doing.

Gia Nicolaides is an Eyewitness News Reporter. She covered the unrest in Marikana last year.

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