S.African cop who gave Marikana order comes forward

13th June 2013, Comments 0 comments

A South African provincial police chief confessed Thursday to ordering officers to disperse striking miners in Marikana last year, a move that led to 34 people being shot dead.

William Mpembe, deputy police chief for the North West province, told an inquiry that he had given the order that resulted in the worst incidence of police violence since the end of apartheid.

He insisted that he'd had to inform his superior, provincial commissioner Zukiswa Mbombo.

"I took a decision, briefed her, and she agreed," Mpembe told the commission's Judge Ian Farlam.

Police opened fire on illegal strikers at the Lonmin platinum mine north west of Johannesburg on August 16 last year.

When the dust settled over the scene, more than a dozen people lay dead on the ground.

The rest died in hospital from their wounds.

The shootings sparked massive wage strikes across the mining sector amid fuelled union rivalry.

In the weeks around the shooting a total of 50 people were killed in clashes among strikers and with police.

Until now none of the police witnesses who testified at the commission of inquiry had taken responsibility for the shooting, which was transmitted on national and international television.

© 2013 AFP

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