Marikana massacre police were not in danger, report

Miners during a commemoration marking the massacre at the Marikana mine, South Africa
Miners during a commemoration marking the massacre at the Marikana mine, South Africa MUJAHID SAFODIEN / AFP

The Institute for Security Studies (ISS) has published a new report into the killing of 34 striking miners on the 16 August 2012.The South African thinktank has found that the police officers responsible were not under threat when they fired at the miners.


The research‚ published under the title Sound of Gunfire, includes photographs‚ witness accounts and forensic evidence presented to the Farlam Commission of Inquiry into the massacre.

If the stain of the worst killing by post-apartheid South African police is to be expunged, the cleanup has to start from the top, says Gareth Newham, ISS head of justice and violence prevention.

"We are currently at a crossroads when it comes to policing in South Africa," Newham said on Wednesday at an ISS seminar on the police’s conduct at, and after, the 2012 shootings. “Since the ill-conceived appointment by [former president] Jacob Zuma of the disastrous Riah Phiyega as [SA Police Service] SAPS commissioner in 2012, police performance has declined notably."

He went on to say that the 2012 incident called for a deeper structural reforms in the SAPS, which would have left South Africa with a different form and improve police service.

Scene Two hidden from view

The killing of 17 striking miners by police in a 12-second volley of police gunfire at the so-called "Scene One" site, was recorded by media from around the world.

The new ISS report deals with Scene Two of the Marikana massacre where another 17 miners died in an 11-minute shooting by 54 police officers from the top of a rocky hill onto men huddled in bushes below.

This was not witnessed by the media.

Independent researcher David Bruce finds the police were taking revenge for the killing of two of their comrades by strikers two days earlier.

“Prima facie indicates that those that fired at Scene Two were not doing so in self-defence," commented Ian Farlam‚ the now retired Judge who chaired the commission of inquiry into Marikana and attended the seminar.

Farlam said they had never learned why police were deployed in a paramilitary fashion.

He had referred evidence to the Director of Public Prosecutions and the Independent Police Investigative Directorate but no further action has been taken.

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