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Marikana evidence leader points to political pressure

Evidence leader Geoff Budlender suggests that political pressure might have led to the Marikana tragedy.

Evidence leader Geoff Budlender suggests that political pressure might have led to the Marikana tragedy. Picture: Taurai Maduna/EWN.

RUSTENBURG - Evidence leaders at the Farlam Commission of Inquiry on Friday suggested there might have been political pressure on police to disperse miners gathered on the koppie on the day of the Marikina bloodbath.

The commission listened to testimony to help it determine whether the police were justified in using maximum force when 34 miners were gunned down in August.

Miners from Lonmin's Marikana operation downed tools to demand a minimum wage of R12,500 from their employers.

Some 10 people were killed, including policemen and a security guard before the police shooting.

On August 16, police used live ammunition to disperse the demonstrating miners, leaving 34 dead and 78 others injured.

The inquiry was set up by President Jacob Zuma to probe the violence.

Evidence leader Geoff Budlender suggested political influence might have been involved in pushing the police to disperse the protesters on 16 August.

"That would have risk of leading to the wrong decision because it is not a political decision that should have been made but an operational one."

Brigadier Zephaniah Mkhwanazi, who was cross-examined at the inquiry, said there was a clear breakdown of communication between officers on the ground.

He made a number of suggestions of what police could have done differently on the day of the shooting, leaning towards less lethal force.