Police can't be exonerated for Marikana massacre: Bizos

06 November 2014 - 16:15 By Sapa
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The SA Police Service must be held accountable for the deaths and injuries of striking mineworkers at Marikana in North West in August 2012, the Farlam Commission of Inquiry heard.

"I would submit that it would be completely unacceptable to the people of South Africa, who have been following what has been said [in the inquiry], if police [are found] not to blame for anything," George Bizos SC, for the Legal Resources Centre, said.

His voice cracked, apparently with emotion, as he said that during apartheid it was common for commissions to find "that there was no one to blame".

"A finding by this commission that the police are not responsible for any of the deaths will undermine the administration in our country and the rule of law."

Bizos said there was "not a single scratch on any policeman" and asked what inference could be drawn from this.

"Breaking the strike was not the police's business."

The commission is investigating the deaths of 44 people during strike-related unrest at Lonmin's platinum mining operations at Marikana in August 2012.

Thirty-four people, mostly striking mineworkers, were shot dead in a clash with the police on August 16.

More than 70 people were wounded and more than 200 were arrested. The police were apparently trying to disarm and disperse them.

In the preceding week, 10 people, including two policemen and two Lonmin security guards, were killed.

The Legal Resources Centre called for the commission to recommend that the police and Lonmin be held civilly responsible for the deaths and injuries, and should be made to speedily pay compensation to victims and their families.

It also sought a recommendation for investigations towards the prosecution of senior police officials who participated in a national management forum meeting where the confrontation with strikers was allegedly agreed to, as well as individual police shooters.

The commission is hearing final arguments, drawn from the parties' heads of argument, before the public hearings, which began in October 2012, come to an end next Friday.

The commissioners will then compile their final report, which will be handed to President Jacob Zuma.