The steps taken by South African police that led up to them killing 34 protesters at Lonmin Plc’s (LMI) Marikana mine last year were “exactly” as planned, according to footage of a commander addressing uniformed officers.
“From the planning to the execution was 110 percent,” Brigadier Adriaan Calitz said in the video taken two days after the shooting and posted by the Daily Maverick, an Internet news site. “I have to congratulate you. Exactly how we planned it and we briefed the commanders. Exactly we executed in that line.” Calitz gave the order on the day to fire, according to the Daily Maverick.
Vish Naidoo, national police spokesman, declined to comment on the veracity of the video when called by phone.
On Aug. 16 last year police fired on mineworkers protesting for higher pay at Marikana in the deadliest action by South African security personnel since the end of apartheid in 1994. The police say they acted in self-defense as the miners had fired upon them and were armed with spears and traditional fighting sticks.
The police used water cannons, stun grenades, tear smoke and tried to “push back,” Calitz said. When the police were attacked “that is when the command was given by their commanders as well as some of them, act in self-defense,” Calitz said.
Speaking through a megaphone, Calitz advises dozens of police officers about how to deal with possible questions during an investigation into the deaths.
“It’s useless to say that, ‘No I only fired two shot’, but there was 500 or 400 cartridges that was picked up,” Calitz said. “Please do not. All our firearms will be taken, will be collected. You’ve got nothing to hide.”
After discovering a journalist had been recording the briefing even though it was closed to the media, Calitz ordered a policeman to confiscate the camera and record over the file, according to the footage.
The police’s video was only given to a commission of inquiry into the event last month, the Johannesburg-based Daily Maverick said.
Calitz has been repeatedly mentioned in connection with shooting incident, Commission Secretary Phuti Setati said by mobile phone today. He declined to comment on the video.
“These things have to be put to the commission of inquiry. They can’t be confirmed or denied now,” the police’s Naidoo said. Police Commissioner Riah Phiyega’s spokesman Lieutenant-General Solomon Makgale didn’t immediately respond to a message left on his mobile phone.
President Jacob Zuma appointed the commission to probe the deaths of 44 people during violence at the mine, which is northwest of Johannesburg, in August last year, including the 34 killed by police.
Lawyers for the commission gained access to thousands of pages of documents from police computers, which the police previously said didn’t exist, according to a statement by the commission posted on its website Sept. 19. The documents suggest that police evidence “is in material respects not the truth,” the panel said.
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