South Africa News

Marikana massacre: State’s case against charged cops takes a beating

The state’s case against half a dozen policemen charged with the deaths of five people – including two from within their own ranks and three mineworkers – during the violent unrest in Marikana in August 2012, took a beating in the North West High Court on Wednesday morning.

This as Lieutenant-Colonel Moses Mushwana – from the Saps’ Local Crime Records Centre – climbed into the witness box for a third day.

Mushwana, then a captain, was on scene that day to bag evidence. On Monday, he testified to having taken photographs and collected blood swabs as well as spent ammunition. He said he had returned the following day and then again in October, when he had found three additional cartridge casings.

But under cross-examination, the defence quizzed Mushwana about why he had not taken clear photographs of knobkerries and spears he told the court he had found with blood on them. He was also questioned on a mix up with the Crime Administration System (CAS) numbers allocated to the case and the integrity of the crime scene.

On Wednesday morning, Kobus Burger – who is representing retired Colonel Salmon Vermaak in these proceedings – continued picking apart his evidence.

Vermaak is accused of having instructed those under his command to pursue striking mineworkers as they were fleeing, after the police had fired teargas and stun grenades at them. He stands charged with one count of murder in connection with the death of Phumzile Sokanyile, a mineworker who was shot in the back of the head.

Burger on Wednesday asked Mushwana whether or not he had ever engaged with any of the locals living in the vicinity to find out if they had seen anything.

He replied in the negative, but said this was also not his job.

“I think we must not confuse issues because that is the duty of the investigating officer,” a visibly irritated Mushwana said.

“But you were there and you had all the equipment to take photographs and seize exhibits. It’s a simple exercise,” Burger countered.

Mushwana stuck to his guns though. “That was not my duty,” he repeated.

Burger also asked Mushwana whether he had searched in and among large rocks at the scene for cartridge casings and bullet heads that may have helped identify who exactly shot Sokanyile.

Mushwana initially charged that there were no large rocks. But after he was shown a photograph Burger, himself, had taken, he was forced to concede there in fact were.

He then said he had searched in and amongst the rocks with a metal detector but that he was alone at the time and no-one could vouch for him.

The case continues.

-The Citizen

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