Marikana: SAPS failed to use crowd control expert

Salmon Vermaak says he was never asked to assist with drawing up a crucial plan.

Retired judge Ian Farlam at the Marikana Commission of Inquiry. Picture: Gia Nicolaides/EWN.

PRETORIA - The Farlam Commission of Inquiry on Wednesday heard that despite inadequate skills to deal with crowd management, police failed to make use of a crowd control expert.

Thirty-four miners were killed when police opened fire on striking workers in Marikana on 16 August 2012.

President Jacob Zuma set up the hearing to determine whether officers were justified in using lethal force on striking workers.

North West air wing commander Salmon Vermaak says he has 16 years of public order policing experience.

He said he was not once asked to assist the police with drawing up a crucial plan that would disarm and disperse protesters.

Vermaak says North West Police Commissioner Zukiswa Mbombo knew he had the adequate experience to assist the police.

He says he cannot understand why other people who didn't have the appropriate skills were used instead.

Earlier, Vermaak also slated the commanders in charge, saying they didn't have the adequate experience to control the scene.

VERMAAK 'DROPPED' FOR CRITICISING COPS

The inquiry heard that National Police Commissioner Riah Phiyega and senior officers called Vermaak to a meeting five months after the deadly shooting.

During the meeting, the top cop asked him about rumours that he was giving evidence leaders and other parties, including human rights lawyer George Bizos, information about what happened on the day in question.

But Vermaak, who was supposed to be a police witness at the hearing, said he never met some of the people mentioned by Phiyega.

Shortly after that meeting, Vermaak was informed that police would no longer be representing him.

Yesterday, Vermaak told the commission that he was contacted by the police's head of operations and told he would be apportioned the blame for the killings, but said he didn't understand why.

The police have dismissed these claims.

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

At least 76 miners were also injured in the shooting.

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