A number of officers from the South African Police Service (SAPS) who played a role in the making of the Marikana Massacre are facing prosecution, according to a statement released by President Jacob Zuma this week.
This is only the beginning in the unraveling of the matter caused by the killing of 44 mine workers who were part of a mass that was in labour dispute with platinum mining giant Lonmin. Police shot at the striking workers indiscriminately in what became a massacre that compares with apartheid era killings.
President Zuma’s statement takes from the Farlam Commission which he established to scrutinise the massacre. The Commission released its findings in June last year. Victims of the massacre and some stakeholders have made it clear that they want much more than the Commission’s findings and recommendations. Some have made clear intentions to haul key role layers like Lnmin and its directors, including former director and now deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa, to court.
Here follows an extract from the President Zuma’s statement dealing with some prosecutions:
On the part that certain matters and cases be referred to the Directorate of Public Prosecutions in the North West Province for further investigation and to determine whether there is a basis for prosecution, warning statements have been obtained from senior members of SAPS who were involved in the operation.
A criminal case was opened against a Major-General in the SAPS for allegedly defeating the ends of justice. He is accused of having failed to exercise command and control at scene 2 and belatedly submitted his own firearm for investigation by the ballistic experts, and that the paramedics under his protection were diverted to scene 2 instead of giving medical attention at scene 1.
A case was opened against a Brigadier for allegedly defeating the ends of justice by failing to secure recordings of the extra-ordinary meeting of SAPS management (January 2016).
An attempted murder case has been opened for some police officers for the miners who were hospitalized with gunshot wounds on the 13th August 2012, as per the directive from NPA).
The Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) – recommended prosecutions of certain SAPS members for the offences of murder, attempted murder, defeating and/or obstructing the ends of justice, contravention of Section 33 (3) of the Independent Police Investigative Directorate Act 1 of 2011 (IPID Act), contravention of Section 28 read with Section 29 of the said Act, and contravention of Section 6 (2) of the Commissions Act 8 of 1947 by giving false testimony.
Investigations found a Major General who was responsible for overall command of the SAPS operation at Marikana, to have been remiss in his conduct when dealing with the incident of 13 August 2012, which led to the deaths of two police officers, namely, Warrant Officer Lepaaku and Warrant Officer Monene, as well as three strikers, Mr Mati, Mr Sokhanyile and Mr Jokanisi.
He also allegedly ignored the advice of experienced Public Order Police officers on dealing with the crowd control situation and contravened the SAPS Standing Order #262 relating to crowd control.
The officer faces four counts of murder for the deaths of two police officers and two of the strikers and six counts of attempted murder in respect of the five injured miners and one police officer.
He also faces charges of defeating and/or obstructing the ends of justice, as well as contravention of section 6 (2) of the Commissions Act by falsely testifying at the Farlam Commission and denying his role in ordering the police to fire teargas at the strikers.
A Brigadier heading the provincial detectives unit, another Brigadier who was in charge of detectives at the detention centre and a Major have been charged for defeating the ends of justice by concealing a death in police custody.
A Colonel, Warrant Officer and a Constable have all been charged for the murder of Mr Sokhanyile.
A recommendation has been made that the Colonel should further be charged with defeating and/or obstructing the ends of justice and contravention of 6(2) of the Commissions Act for falsely testifying at the Farlam Commission about Mr Sokhanyile’s death.
With regards to death from the delay in providing medical attention, reports indicated that a Major-General diverted medical personnel for the injured strikers at Scene 1. The Commission recommended investigations, which are still not yet concluded.
Forensic, ballistic and other evidence, including the authentication of incident footage are still outstanding. Also, indications are that the police might have tampered with the crime scene.
Lastly, charges for contravening Section 6(2) of the Commission Act, Act no 8 of 1947 for misleading the Commission are also under consideration. The matter has been handed over to the National Prosecuting.