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'Police intended to kill Marikana miners'

The police came under fire for their decision to use R5 rifles when dealing with striking miners.

Police closely monitor protests in Marikana in the North West on 14 August 2012. Picture: Taurai Maduna/EWN.

MARIKANA - The Marikana Commission of Inquiry on Monday heard that police intended to kill miners by using R5 and R1 rifles on the day of the shooting.

A forensics expert is testifying at the inquiry in Rustenburg about whether police were justified in using maximum force when dispersing protesting workers at the platinum mine in August.

At least 34 miners were shot dead while protesting for better salaries.

A total of 45 people, including police officers, lost their lives in connection with the strike action.

Advocate Dumisa Ntsebeza, representing the families of the victims said police used firearms that were intended to kill people.

Forensic expert Albert Vessels agreed with Ntsebeza pointing out the assault rifles brought to Marikana should have never been used if police only intended to disperse the protesters.

The spotlight is still on police and whether it was necessary for them to use certain types of ammunition.

On Friday, Bishop Jo Seoka apologised to the families of policemen who died in the line of duty after saying the South African Police Service (SAPS) in this country cannot be trusted.

Seoka testified at the inquiry about his involvement in trying to negotiate a truce before the bloodbath.

Police earlier presented evidence showing that Marikana miners opened fire during the fatal shooting.

The evidence suggested miners did open fire, but not nearly as much as the police.

At least 210 rifle cartridges were found at a scene where 16 protesters were gunned down.

The police maintain they had no other option but to protect themselves against the angry miners.

The commission has four months to complete its investigation.

Retired judge Ian Farlam is heading the inquiry.