Marikana families in EFF regalia

Families of slain Marikana miners arrived at the Farlam Commission of Inquiry in Pretoria on Monday (24/02/2014) dressed in red EFF-branded berets and T-shirts.

The relatives were mainly widows of Lonmin miners shot dead on August 16, 2012. The Economic Freedom Fighters T-shirts had the party’s logo and the words: “Economic freedom in our lifetime” and “Vote EFF”.

On Monday, North West deputy provincial commissioner Major-General Ganasen Naidoo said when he heard “people were down” he thought mineworkers had fallen during a stampede.

He was cross-examined by evidence leader Matthew Chaskalson SC.

“You told this commission that the mental picture you had (on August 16, 2012) was that you were dealing with injuries from falls from a stampede. Do you stand by that evidence?” Chaskalson asked.

Naidoo responded: “I don’t think we ever conceived that there would be a shooting of that scale. We did plan for a dispersal and my response was to deal with a possibility that people were injured in that dispersal.

“Regarding the magnitude (of the injuries), at that stage that was not the picture which I had in my mind.”

Chaskalson asked Naidoo to explain how he had heard the volley of R5 rifle fire yet he did not contemplate that some of the protesters were critically injured or killed.

“It was an unexpected volley of gunfire I did not anticipate. I was responding to information which I had, which had only said people were down. I can’t indicate to this commission what I perceived at the time, when I didn’t know,” Naidoo said.

The commission, sitting in Pretoria and led by retired judge Ian Farlam, is probing the deaths of 44 people at Lonmin’s platinum mining operations in Marikana, near Rustenburg. On August 16, 2012, 34 people, mostly striking miners, were shot dead and 78 people were wounded when police fired on a group gathered at a hill near the mine. In the preceding week, 10 people, including two policemen and two security guards, were killed in the strike-related violence.

President Jacob Zuma established the inquiry shortly after the shootings. – Sapa

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