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Marikana cops used 'weapons of war'

Advocate Dumisa Ntsebeza said cops should never have used the rifles on the striking Marikana miners.

Police look over at Lonmin’s Marikana mine workers who were protesting on 16 August, 2012 for more wages. Picture: Taurai Maduna/Eyewitness News.

RUSTENBURG - The Marikana Commission of Inquiry on Monday heard that firearms used by police on the day 34 miners were gunned down were "weapons of war".

The hearing was established by President Jacob Zuma to determine whether officers were justified in using live ammunition to disperse miners during a violent wage strike in the North West mining town on August 16.

The workers were demanding a basic wage of R12,500.

Advocate Dumisa Ntsebeza said the R5 and R1 assault rifles should never have been used by police.

He said arriving in Marikana with what he calls "weapons of war" meant there was an intention to kill.

Speaking at the hearing on Monday, a forensic expert said the rifles were dangerous, but that most policemen were issued with them to perform daily tasks and to defend the public.

Evidence leaders then said they intended calling at least six arrested Marikana miners to testify at the inquiry.

Advocate Dali Mpofu, who is representing some of the miners, was visibly upset when the evidence leaders told him that they would be calling his clients as witnesses.

Mpofu said he should be able to choose which of his clients should testify.

But commission chairperson Judge Ian Farlam said anyone could be subpoenaed.

The miners were called to the stage and told to return on Wednesday.

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