Marikana: Cops’ skulls cracked in attack by miners
Two police officers who died during a confrontation with miners at Marikana on Monday August 13, were hit with such force with traditional weapons that their skulls were cracked open.
The Marikana commission of inquiry saw graphic images this morning of the bodies of the two warrant officers, whose faces were disfigured and bloodied in the attack when police tried to disarm the protesters who were marching to a koppie at Wonderkop.
In his evidence before the commission, Colonel Victor Visser also played a video showing Major General William Mpembe of the North West provincial police negotiating with a group of protesting mine workers, armed with spears and sharp objects, to hand over their weapons.
However, one of the miners, who has been identified as Mgcineni Noki (dubbed the man in the green blanket by the media), told Mpembe they would not hand over their weapons.
He said they were not fighting police, but were merely carrying the weapons to protect themselves from attacks by “union people”.
Mpembe told the miners their gathering and the carrying of dangerous weapons in public was illegal, and he would not allow them to proceed marching towards the koppie. However, Visser said the miners continued marching regardless.
He said police fired tear gas at the miners, but it had no effect. This led to police firing a stun grenade, causing the miners to flee.
But a group of them allegedly turned on the police, attacking them with sharp weapons, killing two and seriously wounding one.
Visser said the miners robbed police of an R5 rifle, a shotgun, a 9mm firearm and a police radio. He said the weapons were used to fire at the police. The picture of one of the police officers showed he had two bullet wounds, one in the chest and another in the shoulder.
Three of the protesters were killed in the confrontation; Visser said two had bullet wounds and one had a stab wound.
That night, said Visser, national police commissioner Riah Phiyega met with provincial police head honchos, and later with Lonmin management, asking them to intervene by talking to the workers’ unions.
Meanwhile, Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa has joined proceedings at the commission.
Advocate Lindi Nkosi-Thomas told the commission this morning that she was representing Mthethwa, but did not elaborate.
The SA Police Service is already represented by Advocate Ishmael Semenya. It has been a difficult week for the police at the commission, where evidence shown on Tuesday suggested tampering with evidence and attempts to defeat the ends of justice.
The commission continues.