Marikana cop feels the heat

The Farlam commission of inquiry. (Madelene Cronje, M&G)

The Farlam commission of inquiry. (Madelene Cronje, M&G)

Lieutenant Colonel Stephen McIntosh breathed a visible a sigh of relief when his cross-examination at the Farlam commission came to an end on Thursday afternoon. McIntosh was one of the chief police negotiators called from Gauteng to mediate with striking mine workers at Marikana in August 2012. 

In a dramatic standoff, Advocate Dali Mpofu, for the injured and arrested mine workers, asked the witness if he was a racist. This question arose from information that McIntosh had asked the protesters to send forward the “five bravest men” to negotiate with the police on August 16 2012. It was later on this day that the police shot and killed 34 strikers and injured more than 70.

“If the miners were members of Solidarity, a white union, would you have asked for the bravest?” Mpofu asked the witness.

“It has nothing to do with race … I would’ve asked for five people to come forward if it was Solidarity,” McIntosh responded, after denying being a racist. He justified his choice of words, saying it was in fact a psychologist who was on board the armoured nyala, which the police were negotiating from, who suggested the wording, after a previous call for strikers to come forward had failed.

Mpofu accused McIntosh of being culturally unaware. “In other words, [you called for the bravest men] just because they were black? They were diverse in culture, but nevertheless you thought that this clarion call for the bravest men would appeal to them homogenously,” Mpofu interrogated. 

McIntosh denied all claims of being racist. 

Mpofu then pointed out that McIntosh was not aware of the specifics of the group of striking miners and they did not want the involvement of trade unions. He also did not know that the attack on mine workers on August 11 2012, during which two people were seriously injured, was carried out by National Union of Mineworkers’ (NUM) members. According to Mpofu, this information was vital for a negotiator to be aware of when dealing with the striking miners. 

McIntosh once again defended himself, saying he was not negotiating alone, but under the instruction of a team of people, including Brigadier Adriaan Calitz – one of the commanders of the Marikana operation – who was in the nyala.

Mpofu concluded by saying that the negotiations had been a failure, and pointed to the possibility that it could have been partly due to the fact that McIntosh was a hostage and child protection negotiator, with no experience in labour relation issues. 

Earlier in the week, various parties took McIntosh to task over discrepancies between his statement and that of other cops, as well as between versions of his own statements.

Advocate Heidi Barnes, on behalf of Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union, pointed out one of these differences, namely that neither McIntosh nor Calitz’s original statements made any mention of the alleged threats from one of the strike leaders, known as “Mr Noki” on August 15 2012.

However, in a later statement, McIntosh says that the strikers threatened the police on August 15, while Calitz said it occurred the following day. McIntosh had no explanation for any of the mentioned discrepancies. 

Barnes, after also noting that none of the threats had been recorded in the police’s occurrence book, concluded by saying that McIntosh’s evidence is “such a mess of inconsistencies … that it cannot be accepted”.

Advocate Dumisa Ntsebeza, on behalf of the families of the deceased miners, later pointed out that there were also differences between McIntosh’s statements and those of other police officers at Marikana. Both Ntsebeza and the commissioner, retired judge Ian Farlam, rapped McIntosh over the knuckles for including hearsay evidence as fact in his statements.

“We will argue that when you put hearsay accounts in the manner that we’ve now demonstrated you do, and you pass it off as if it was first-hand knowledge on your part, the aim is to mislead the commission … We will argue that it has the effect of misleading and deceiving,” said Ntsebeza.

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