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'Marikana miners could've been saved'

Adv. Dali Mpofu, acting on behalf of the miners, argued cops turned a blind eye to the wounded men.

Miners gather ahead of the one year anniversary of the shootings at Lonmin's Marikana mine on 16 August 2013. Picture: Gia Nocolaides/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG -The Farlam Commission of Inquiry on Thursday heard some striking Marikana miners could've been saved if police used helicopters to airlift them to hospital.

Four choppers were allegedly available at the time.

The inquiry was set up by President Jacob Zuma to determine whether officers were justified in using lethal force on the day 34 miners were killed and 76 others injured by police in the North West mining town.

The deadly shooting took place on 16 August 2012.

North West deputy police chief Ganasen Naidoo once again came under attack over the police's conduct in the moments after the miners were killed or wounded.

Officers have already been accused of tampering with the evidence to reconstruct the crime scene to avoid any fingers being pointed at them.

Advocate Dali Mpofu, acting on behalf of the miners, argued police turned a blind eye to the wounded men.

"Saps members may be rushed [to hospital] by any means necessary but if there is a citizen in the same position, they may be left there."

The commission resumes on Friday.

The hearing on Thursday heard some of the policemen who fired shots at the striking miners worked on the crime scene despite being suspects in the case.

Legal Resources Centre lawyer Jason Brickhill described the police's actions as "unacceptable".

Naidoo disagreed, saying, "The ideal situation is that everybody who discharged the firearms were not involved in any way with the scene, but we did not have an ideal situation."

Ten other people, including two policemen and two security guards, were killed in strike-related violence in the days leading up to the shooting.

The Marikana standoff has been described as the bloodiest shootout in post-apartheid South Africa.