Police, Picket-Lines and Fatalities: Lessons from the Past by David Baker (auth.)

By David Baker (auth.)

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The police, state authorities and the company promoted the narrative that the violent strikers provoked the incident by charging and shooting at the police (Marinovich, 2013). General Rhia Phiyega, a close friend of President Zuma, was appointed the national police commissioner in 2012 despite a lack of police or police management experience. In a video four days after the massacre, Phiyega apparently remarked to police: ‘Whatever happened represents the best of responsible policing. Thank you for what you did’ (Ledwaba, 2013b).

Farlam Commission of Inquiry The Farlam Commission, under retired judge Ian Farlam and several additional members and evidence leaders, was promptly established by President Zuma on 23 August 2012. It commenced hearings on 1 October 2012 into the strike-related violence and deaths at the Lonmin’s platinum mine. The terms of reference included the ‘facts and circumstances which gave rise to the use of all and any force and whether this was reasonable and justifiable in the particular circumstances’ (The Marikana Commission of Inquiry, 2012).

Renton was knocked to the ground and Tommy Edwards, while trying to protect Renton, was clubbed with a police baton. There is some conjecture about how Edwards received his fatal blow: whether it was by baton or rifle butt (see De Garis, 1966, p. 35; Williams, 1976, p. 72; Oliver, 2003, p. 73). After the reading of the Riot Act, police were issued ball cartridges as the squad of constables faced ‘the vast assemblage of frantic men and women’ (Fremantle Times, 9 May 1919). When the police command was given to ‘load’ and ‘fix bayonets’, ALF secretary McCallum yelled: ‘No!

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