Bizos: Cops were working under "shoot to kill"

George Bizos has argued the police used euphemisms to order "shoot to kill" operations in Marikana.

Police and Lonmin miners clashed in Marikana, during an illegal strike in the area on 16 August. Picture: Taurai Maduna/EWN

RUSTENBURG - Advocate George Bizos on Monday argued the police used euphemisms to order "shoot to kill" operations in Marikana.

Bizos, who is representing some of the families of the Marikana bloodbath victims, was cross-examining a police training expert at the Farlam Commission of Inquiry about whether officers deliberately killed miners during a violent protest in August.

Bizos was not subtle about his views of the police and the way they operate in South Africa.

He questioned whether terms such as "tactical force" and "strategic option" actually meant "to kill".

Brigadier Petrus Breytenbach said he did not know what the police's plan of action was on the day of the Marikana shooting, but said he knew they were trained to use live ammunition as a last resort.

Breytenbach said he believed rubber bullets were effective, but that the operations commander must have given the order to use lethal force on the day perhaps because the lives of the policemen were at risk.

The commission, chaired by retired judge Ian Farlam, is due to determine the events that led to violence outside the Lonmin Mine, where 34 miners were gunned down.

The shooting happened several weeks after Lonmin miners downed tools, in demand for higher salaries.