QUESTIONS around the origin of a police plan to disperse striking mineworkers at Lonmin’s Marikana platinum mine near Rustenburg on August 16 last year featured strongly before the Marikana commission of inquiry on Monday as counsel for the families of those killed by police suggested the plan had been devised by a single police officer.
The issue was also raised last week by Nokukhanya Jele, counsel for the South African Human Rights Commission, who said it seemed Lt-Col Duncan Scott of the Special Task Force, an elite unit of the South African Police Service (SAPS), had been the sole planner.
Crowd dispersal plans fall under the public order policing sphere of the SAPS, with the expectation that the person devising a plan should be a senior public order policing official.
Dumisa Ntsebeza SC, counsel for the families of the men killed in Marikana on August 16, on Monday wanted to show that the person whom he believed had devised the plan, Lt-Col Scott, had not been the best qualified to do so.
"I will put it to you that the reluctance to admit that it was (Lt-Col Scott’s) plan is because he was not the person, professionally, who should have been drawing up the plan at Marikana," Adv Ntsebeza told Maj-Gen Charl Annandale, the head of the police’s specialised units who was also involved in the Marikana operation.
The plan devised by the police was to disarm, disperse and arrest some of the striking workers who had assembled at a koppie near an informal settlement in Wonderkop on August 16. The armed group that the police wanted to disperse was part of about 3,000 workers who had embarked on an unprotected strike at the Lonmin mine. However, the plan went awry when protesters breached a police line and officers shot and killed 34 people.
On Monday, Adv Ntsebeza said the evidence presented by a number of police officials suggested that Lt-Col Scott had been the mastermind behind the plan.
He also presented an affidavit dated November 19 last year in which Lt-Col Scott said: "The plan or strategy that I prepared and proposed for adoption by Joccom (the police’s Joint Operational Co-ordinating Committee) was the first of its kind."
His affidavit also said: "I thus had to devise what I considered at the time to be an appropriate plan for an unprecedented situation."
Maj-Gen Annandale had earlier replied that Lt-Gen Scott had put together the final presentation of the plan from August 14 last year after receiving input from all the commanders involved in the matter.
However, after reading the affidavit from Lt-Col Scott, Adv Ntsebeza said Maj-Gen Annandale had testified that this was never a plan by Lt-Gen Scott but rather a police plan with input from all commanders.
"You testified that during the Joccom meetings, all the commanders were present and Lt-Col Scott was available to co-ordinate the input. I put it to you that this was his plan. It was his brainchild," Adv Ntsebeza said.
The commission continues.