Marikana testimony reviewed

South Africa
The Farlam Commission of Inquiry on Tuesday reviewed the testimony given several months ago by Brigadier Nhlanhla Mkhwanazi. Picture:

Johannesburg - The Farlam Commission of Inquiry on Tuesday reviewed the testimony given several months ago by Brigadier Nhlanhla Mkhwanazi.

The former acting national police commissioner was called to give evidence at the commission as he had expertise in training Public Order Police (Pop). He played no part in the Marikana unrest.

During his testimony, Mkhwanazi said it would have been best if a Pop-trained negotiator had been brought in to negotiate with striking Lonmin mineworkers in Marikana.

Maj-Gen Charl Annandale, who is under cross-examination at the Rustenburg hearings, on Tuesday rejected Mkhwanazi's claims. He said there was no such thing as a Pop-trained negotiator.

"There's nothing called a Pop negotiator. They all undergo one training under the SA Police Service. The only accredited negotiating course I know of is the hostage and suicide negotiating [course]," he said.

Annandale headed the police tactical response team during the unrest.

Criticism was raised about why police negotiators conducted negotiations from behind armoured police Nyala vehicles.

Dumisa Ntsebeza, for the families of the dead miners, said Mkhwanazi stated the negotiators should have tried to gain the trust of the strikers and properly addressed them.

Mkhwanazi said another thing that could have been done was to "drench" the area with public order police. Annandale said this was not possible, as police had to attend to other public unrest situations.

"We couldn't deploy all the country's Pop to one province."

The commission, chaired by retired judge Ian Farlam, is investigating the circumstances surrounding the deaths of 44 people during wage-related unrest in Marikana last year.

Police shot dead 34 striking mineworkers in Marikana on August 16. Ten people, including two police officers, were killed in the preceding week.

The commission continues.

-Sapa

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