Commanding officer ‘lost control’ in Marikana

Salmon Vermaak testified about the William Mpembe’s reaction in the days leading up to the shooting.

Crosses on the koppie in Marikana, where 34 miners were killed in a standoff with police on 16 August 2012. Picture: Christa van der Walt/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - The commanding officer in Marikana seemed to have "lost control" after two other officers were hacked to death by mineworkers in August 2012, The Farlam Commission of Inquiry heard on Monday.

The hearing was set up by President Jacob Zuma to investigate whether officers were justified in using lethal force on the day 34 striking miners were gunned down at the hands of police.

Lieutenant Colonel Salmon Vermaak testified about the North West deputy police commissioner William Mpembe's reaction in the days leading up to the deadly 16 August 2012 shooting.

He says the senior policeman appeared shocked after realising two men had been hacked to death and ran around shouting "my policemen have been killed."

Vermaak says at this point, Mpembe appeared to have lost control of his members on the scene.

The deputy provincial chief was later removed from the area.

Vermaak says this took place because officers were angry at him after the death of their two colleagues.

Last week, the police's legal team warned the Farlam Commission of Inquiry that witnesses will be reluctant to testify if the identity of a protester, known only as 'Mr X', is not kept confidential.

'Mr X' was a protester during the Marikana shooting and is likely to implicate his fellow protesters, which could in turn lead to possible criminal prosecution.

The police say the man will give incriminating evidence showing that protesters planned to attack officers in the days leading up to the shooting.

The commission will resume on Tuesday morning.