Marikana commission hears police's side

A senior North West officer told the inquiry police acted in self defence.

FILE: Retired Judge Ian Farlam and commissioners at the Marikana Commission of Inquiry into the Marikana shooting on 3 October 2012. Picture: Taurai Maduna/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - A senior North West police official told the Marikana Commission of Inquiry that police officers were protecting themselves when they fired shots during last year's unrest.

The commission is currently probing the deaths of 44 people during illegal strikes in August.

The North West Deputy Police Commissioner William Mpembe said from the video footage which was played, he could see that protesters were charging at the police.

Mpembe said his officers acted in self defence when they retaliated against the miners.

This was shortly after two policemen were hacked to death, allegedly by the protesters.

The inquiry also heard a testimony on Tuesday from a shop owner in Marikana, who in a statement, mentioned how there was a sudden increase in demand for pangas, axes and hatchets.

General dealer Mohammed Cassim said he usually kept at least 30 pangas at his shop and it was the first time that he'd ever sold so many weapons over a short period of time.