City Press

President Jacob Zuma’s commission of inquiry into Thursday’s Lonmin massacre should answer these five questions:
» Why did police use live ammunition after an order was issued last year forbidding the use of even rubber bullets during public protests?
» Why did Lonmin bosses refuse to negotiate with representatives of the Associated Mining and Construction Union (Amcu) after initially agreeing to?
» Why didn’t the country’s intelligence services pick up
on the brewing tension at the mine and take the appropriate action?

» Who supplied the newly made traditional weapons carried by thousands of
angry miners?
» Do platinum mines discriminate in favour of certain categories of workers when it comes to wage negotiations?

These are the main questions emerging in the aftermath of the blood bath that left 34 workers dead and 78 injured at Lonmin’s Marikana mine in North West.

City Press asked workers, police officers, mining bosses and politicians what key questions Zuma’s probe
should answer.

On Friday, the president announced the establishment of a commission of inquiry “to uncover the truth about what happened here”.

Zuma suggested a sinister motive behind the shootings, saying he didn’t expect such incidents in a country with a “high level” of labour organisation.

City Press can reveal that police officers were ordered in an official memo late last year not even to use rubber bullets, except as a “last resort”, during efforts to control public protests – in stark contrast to the live rounds used by officers at Lonmin.

Two weeks ago Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa asked cops to use only water cannons against protesters.

On December 20 2011, Lieutenant General Elias Mawela, divisional commissioner for operational response services (responsible for maintaining public order), issued a memo clearly aimed at reducing the potential for violence in the police response to public protests.

The order, in the possession of City Press, was circulated to all provincial police bosses.

The document made a clear reference to the outcry following the death of community activist Andries Tatane, who was shot with rubber bullets during a service delivery protest in Ficksburg in April 2011.  Read more…