Get more Mail & Guardian
Subscribe or Login

New Marikana footage points finger at police

The Marikana Support Committee has called for the police officers present when 34 miners were killed at Lonmin's Marikana platinum mine on August 16 last year to be charged with murder following the release of new, apparently damning, footage of the massacre.

Filmmaker Rehad Desai, who is a member of the committee, screened footage he had uncovered during the course of researching his documentary about the events of August last year, at a special press conference in Johannesburg on Monday.

Desai said this new footage, shot from a "fourth camera angle", "put paid" to the South African Police Service's "official narrative that police spontaneously used their firearms in the face of an alleged imminent attack by miners that jeopardised police officers".

The footage, previously unseen by the public, first shows miners peacefully moving off the koppie towards the Wonderkop informal settlement in the presence of police and army armoured vehicles.

​Video from SABCdigitalnews

According to Desai, it appears as if the leaders of the strike, including Mambush Noki, commonly known as the "Man in the Green Blanket", are the first to leave the koppie. Others follow, moving slowly and in an apparently unthreatening manner.

The Nyalas and other armoured vehicles are then captured continuously moving and herding the miners away from the direction of the Wonderkop informal settlement, which they appear to be moving towards.

Instead, the movement of armoured vehicles appears to shepherd the miners towards the line of Tactical Response Team police from whose angle footage previously made public through media news channels has been viewed.

From this fourth camera angle, one can see police firing what appears to be birdshot from between the Nyalas at the shepherded miners. Tear gas also appears to have been fired. The under-fire miners are still moving slowly, crouching and attempting to avoid being hit by what appears to be birdshot from the side.

Then, the volley of live ammunition commonly witnessed in footage so far made public, can be heard. At moments, the line of police firing can be seen. The miners are obscured by an armoured vehicle.

Desai said this new footage "put paid" to the argument that police had acted in self-defence and was more suggestive of premeditated action on their part.

Desai also noted that the new footage shows "the police taking out their pistols from their holsters well before the alleged attack and before the miners arrived on the scene".

He also pointed out "that firearms can be heard to be 'cocked' on four occasions, and on two of these occasions can be seen and heard on the footage". This, Desai said, happens well before the miners, who are blocked off from the Wonderkop informal settlement, start to approach the police line while under fire from the birdshot.

The drawing and cocking of weapons, said Desai, was against police standing orders, which were explicit that guns should only be drawn in the case of "imminent danger".

Standing order 262, which governs police action in situations such Marikana, prohibits the use of live ammunition by police and is explicit that reasonable and minimum force may only be used on the instruction of a commander.

'Older model'
Lieutenant General Duncan Scott, who drew up the operational plan for August 16, told the Farlam commission of inquiry set up to investigate the events of August last year, that he didn't know the details of Standing Order 262 and had been working from an "older model" when he drew up the plans.

His testimony raises further questions about who exactly in the police chain of command gave the order for deadly force to be used on August 16 last year.

Scott is due to return to the witness stand at the commission on October 23.

On behalf of the Marikana Support Campaign, Desai called on the National Director of Public Prosecutions to withdraw charges laid against the 270 arrested and injured miners and, instead, to charge the police officers present on August 16 with murder.

The new evidence also raises questions about what threat the police faced at Marikana that would justify the use of lethal force. The police have consistently maintained that they acted in self-defence.

In 2012, the Criminal Procedure Act was amended to allow a stricter test to be applied when police use force when effecting arrests. But this test requires that an immediate threat should be present before police use force on suspects, either to prevent a crime from occurring or to protect themselves. 

Subscribe to the M&G

Thanks for enjoying the Mail & Guardian, we’re proud of our 36 year history, throughout which we have delivered to readers the most important, unbiased stories in South Africa. Good journalism costs, though, and right from our very first edition we’ve relied on reader subscriptions to protect our independence.

Digital subscribers get access to all of our award-winning journalism, including premium features, as well as exclusive events, newsletters, webinars and the cryptic crossword. Click here to find out how to join them.

Niren Tolsi
Niren Tolsi is a freelance journalist whose interests include social justice, citizen mobilisation and state violence, protest, the Constitution and Constitutional Court, football and Test cricket.
Sarah Evans
Sarah Evans

Sarah Evans interned at the Diamond Fields Advertiser in Kimberley for three years before completing an internship at the Mail & Guardian Centre for Investigative Journalism (amaBhungane). She went on to work as a Mail & Guardian news reporter with areas of interest including crime, law, governance and the nexus between business and politics. 

Related stories


If you’re reading this, you clearly have great taste

If you haven’t already, you can subscribe to the Mail & Guardian for less than the cost of a cup of coffee a week, and get more great reads.

Already a subscriber? Sign in here


Subscribers only

Mbeki tells ANC that land without compensation goes against the...

‘This would be a very serious disincentive to investment,’ says Thabo Mbeki in a document arguing that the ANC should not proceed with the Constitutional amendment of section 25

Micro-hydropower lights up an Eastern Cape village

There is hidden potential for small hydropower plants in South Africa

More top stories

SIU freezes R22-million in Digital Vibes accounts

The Special Investigating Unit said it would ask the tribunal to declare the health department’s contract with the company unlawful

Life-saving free train travel offered to domestic abuse victims in...

A pioneering railway scheme in the UK is helping domestic violence victims to escape their abusers by providing them with free travel to reach refuge

Oral submissions to inquiry on local government elections start next...

The hearings will be open to the media and the public, under strict level-three regulations

Education employees queue for Covid jabs, but some may have...

People who have had Covid-19 in the past 30 days or who have had a flu shot in the past 14 days will be vaccinated at a later date

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…