Last Updated
Thursday 18 December 2014, 14:58 pm.
Marikana: final moments

Video footage and voice recordings capturing the moments before a previously unseen shooting of about 18 of the striking miners at a Marikana koppie were revealed for the first time yesterday.
By Staff Writer Sun 21 Dec 2014, 06:01 am (GMT +2)
Mmegi Online :: Marikana: final moments








The voice recordings, aired at the Farlam Commission of Inquiry, shed light on the orders communicated from a helicopter to policemen on the ground.

It is not clear, however, who from the police top brass took the decision to use maximum force to disperse about 3000 strikers.
In the recordings, the command to "engage" the strikers came from Colonel Solomon Vermaak. On August 16, live TV footage showed police opening fire on miners armed with pangas, knobkerries and other traditional weapons.

In the new evidence, Vermaak can be heard shouting: "Get out there and engage . as a protection, get out of the nyala and engage. The task force will come next."

Advocate Matthew Budlender, one of the leaders of evidence at the commission, said this was "crucial evidence" showing there was a command to "shoot" the miners.

Budlender narrated numerous video clips that were screened for the first time yesterday.
He said the recordings of Vermaak's commands were captured from a radio phone placed next to a video camera in a Coin Security helicopter in which North West deputy commissioner Lieutenant-General William Mpembe was one of the passengers.
Vermaak's aircraft, from which he issued the commands, hovered below that of Coin Security. At first Vermaak cautions: "No lethal fire unless the target engages you. No need for lethal fire while they are running unless the target engages you."

At that stage, he instructs drivers of two water cannons to spray blue dye on the protesters, who are hiding between rocks.
After Vermaak tries to navigate one of the water cannons to the centre of the koppie at which a group of miners is hiding, he eventually commands the tactical response team to move in.

"The task force move those vehicles. The nyalas must move in front of the water cannons. If they can move in, the people are moving out from the middle of the koppie."

But then Vermaak's voice is suddenly picked up: "Move in! Move in! Move! Move! Take the panga! ... Papa 1, come forward, come forward please."

Gunshots are then heard, with Vermaak telling police officers: "You've got the people now."

He warns officers to be alert as miners are still trying to break through the line of fire.

He then tells officers that he could see a group hiding in the middle, before issuing a further instruction that they are fleeing towards the nearest sub-station.

Budlender then played another clip, recorded on the cellphone of one Captain Rylands. It shows the tactical response team members lying on the ground with their elbows supporting their rifles military-style surrounding the small koppie.

In the footage, Rylands is heard telling some of his colleagues to "stop shooting", before another voice is heard saying: "Look to your left! Look to your left."

Although not clearly captured, a miner is seen running away from the koppie and the line of fire. Seconds later, officers rush towards the direction of the fallen miner.

Budlender identified the protester as Thobile Mpumza, who a police witness said two weeks ago had 12 bullet wounds. Footage played on Monday showed armed protesters charging towards the police's firing line, with one of them appearing to pull a trigger from a pistol. (Timeslive)



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