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Police acted on 'political considerations' at Marikana

Dali Mpofu says police rushed their plan for 16 August because they didn't want Julius Malema to interfere.

Advocate Dali Mpofu. Picture: Reinart Toerien/EWN.

PRETORIA - Advocate Dali Mpofu has argued the police in Marikana acted on "political considerations" and ignored their constitutional obligation when dispersing the miners in August 2012.

Mpofu and other legal teams are submitting their final arguments this week at the Farlam Commission of Inquiry, which is in its final phase after sitting for more than 293 days and hearing testimony from more than 50 witnesses.

The inquiry is investigating the deaths of 34 miners who were gunned down by police on 16 August 2012 at Lonmin's Marikana mine.

President Jacob Zuma appointed the inquiry to investigate whether police were justified in using lethal force when the protesting miners were gunned down.

Ten people were also killed in the days leading to the shooting including a mineworker, strikers, two Lonmin security guards and two policemen.

Mpofu said police were trying to get the situation in Marikana under control but rushed their plan for 16 August because they didn't want Julius Malema to interfere.

According to transcripts, North West Police Commissioner Zukiswa Mbombo wanted to put a stop to the strike, fearing Malema would come in and take charge.

The controversial politician was also encouraging the miners to continue with the protest.

The advocate said all this was part of the police's plan to act on political considerations.

"We can't sit here for two years and ask ourselves why the massacre happened when the answers are here in front of us."

Mpofu argued that the biggest failure from police in Marikana was that they didn't warn the miners they were moving in with their dispersal plan.

He also argued that the police acted on political considerations and ignored their constitutional obligation partly because they were angry that two of their own were killed during the clashes.

'NOT ALL MINERS WERE VIOLENT'

Mpofu said the clash between protesters and the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) in the days leading up to the mass shooting prompted miners to arm themselves.

"The first sign of pangas and spears are those held by NUM people.

He said not all the miners were violent, and they cannot be blamed for all 10 deaths that occurred before 16 August 2012.

"The killings that were clearly linked to the strike must have happened at the hands of one or two strikers."

Mpofu said Lonmin is also largely to blame for refusing to speak to the miners about their wage demands.

He argued that emotions were high in Marikana and police were still upset about their colleagues being killed when they gunned down the 34 miners.

Mpofu said all this played a large role in what happened on the 16 August and there was no reason to call up hundreds of officers to the mine.

AMCU WANT RAMAPHOSA INVESTIGATED

Yesterday, the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) said Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa should be investigated for the role he played in the Marikana shootings.

Amcu's Heidi Barnes defended the union's actions in Marikana, saying it was not behind the unprotected strike which led to violence and several deaths.

Barnes however pointed fingers at Ramaphosa who was a non-executive director of Lonmin at the time and sent out an email 24 hours before the shooting calling for "concomitant action" against miners by the police.

"The deputy president was asking for more action at a time when the situation had been brought under control. We say he should be investigated."

Barnes said Lonmin colluded with the police in order to break the strike in August 2012.

Lonmin told the inquiry that Ramaphosa acted as a "responsible businessman" in the days leading up to the fatal Marikana shooting.

Lonmin's lawyer Schalk Burger told the commission that the platinum group can't accuse Ramaphosa of any wrongdoing.

Ramaphosa has been accused of using his political power to influence the police to end the violent strike.

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