Officers who lacked crowd control training contributed to the Marikana massacre – experts

Cape Town – A panel of experts established by former police minister Nathi Nhleko has found that police commanders with no public order policing experience were appointed to take charge during the Marikana massacre.

The Civilian Secretariat for Police presented these findings to the portfolio committee on police on Wednesday morning.

Bilkis Omar from the Policy and Research Unit in the civilian secretariat said the panel comprised SAPS representatives, South African experts and representatives of police unions (Sapu and Popcru) as well as the inclusion of experts nominated by Zimbabwe, Brazil and Russia and an independent international expert assisted by the secretariat.

The purpose of the panel was to address the problems in the SAPS that resulted in the killing by police of 34 people at Marikana, to ensure that violations of this kind do not happen again.

On August 16, 2012, 34 people, mostly striking miners, were shot dead and 78 people were wounded when the police fired on a group gathered at a hill near Lonmin’s platinum-mining operations at Marikana, near Rustenburg in North West, while trying to disperse and disarm them.

Omar told the committee that at Marikana the duty to protect life, which is a core policing principle, was disregarded. “Other failures of principle include an absence of commitment to principles of transparency and accountability after the incident and at the Marikana Commission.”

The panel’s report consists of a total of 136 recommendations, 45 concerning professionalisation, accountability and demilitarisation and 91 addressing protest, the law and crowd management.

There were also recommendations that KPAs for performance review of senior managers should include promoting the principles embodied in the Codes of Conduct and Ethics, and SAPS should train members to use a decision-making model that supports officials in integrating ethical awareness into their decision-making.

The panel’s recommendation was for the prohibition against the use of weapons capable of automatic fire in crowd management should be formalised in regulations issued by the minister of police, and apply not only to Public Order Policing units but to other units who may be deployed in support of POP for crowd management.

Omar said Marikana highlighted failings at the top leadership level.

 

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