Skip to main content

South African police didn't give truth in platinum mine shootings, panel finds

By Michael Martinez, CNN
September 19, 2013 -- Updated 2212 GMT (0612 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • A commission investigating last year's Marikana mine strike finds new police records
  • Police earlier claimed those records didn't exist
  • Documents show the police version of events is "not the truth," the commission says
  • Police shot and killed 34 striking miners, the most in a labor fight since apartheid

(CNN) -- South African police lied about events in last year's Marikana miners' strike in which police fired on thousands of machete-bearing workers, an investigating commission said Thursday.

Thirty-four miners were killed in the incident.

The Marikana Commission based its announcement on newly discovered police documents and computer hard drives belonging to South African Police Services.

Police earlier claimed those documents did not exist, the commission said.

"We have obtained documents which in our opinion demonstrate that the SAPS version of the events at Marikana, as described in the SAPS presentation to this commission and in the evidence of SAPS witnesses at this commission, is in material respects not the truth," the commission said. "We do not make this statement lightly."

Marikana miners' families given apology
Marikana mine: One year later

The body said police officials should have an opportunity to respond to the findings. "However, we have to say that absent a convincing explanation, the material which we have found has serious consequences for the further conduct of the work of this commission," it said.

Some documents create the illusion that they were prepared as events unfolded, but in fact they were "constructed after the events to which they refer," the commission said.

The deaths of the 34 miners in the August 2012 incident made the strike the bloodiest labor dispute in South Africa since the end of apartheid.

The shootings at the Marikana mine came after deaths earlier in the week, including those of two police officers who were hacked to death. Tensions were intense partly because of the presence of competing trade unions, the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union and the National Union of Mineworkers.

The mine, about two hours northwest of Johannesburg, is operated by Lonmin, which is listed on both the London Stock Exchange and Johannesburg Stock Exchange, and is the world's third largest platinum producer. The bulk of its 28,000 employees work at the mine, and around 23% belong to the AMCU.

The violence has prompted some people to draw parallels with the country's days of apartheid rule, which ended in 1994.

READ: 'Marikana massacre:' An unresolved dispute

CNN's Irene Chapple and Errol Barnett contributed to this report.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
September 30, 2014 -- Updated 1550 GMT (2350 HKT)
Experts believe that ISIS may be using a Spanish enclave to bring jihad to Europe.
October 2, 2014 -- Updated 0354 GMT (1154 HKT)
With an efficient subway, inexpensive taxis and a good public bus system, Hong Kong is normally an easy city to navigate ...
September 28, 2014 -- Updated 2332 GMT (0732 HKT)
CNN's Ivan Watson was in the middle of a pro-democracy protest in Hong Kong when things got out of hand.
September 30, 2014 -- Updated 2012 GMT (0412 HKT)
The world's animal population has halved in 40 years as humans put unsustainable demands on Earth, a new report warns.
September 30, 2014 -- Updated 1249 GMT (2049 HKT)
Every day, refugees and migrants risk their lives as they seek a new life. Now, a new report puts a figure to the number of victims.
September 30, 2014 -- Updated 1442 GMT (2242 HKT)
Mainstream commentators must promote positive role models to Muslims feeling victimized, writes Ghaffar Hussain.
September 29, 2014 -- Updated 0613 GMT (1413 HKT)
Two men familiar with inside knowledge of ISIS speak with CNN's Arwa Damon.
Explore CNN's interactive that explains ISIS' roots, what it controls, and where its support comes from.
September 25, 2014 -- Updated 2010 GMT (0410 HKT)
In his first-ever interview as the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani defended his country against allegations of funding terrorism.
September 27, 2014 -- Updated 1503 GMT (2303 HKT)
The North Korean leader hasn't been seen for weeks, leading to speculation that he is in poor health.
September 24, 2014 -- Updated 0154 GMT (0954 HKT)
Haider al-Abadi hopes airstrikes don't lead to "of another terrorist element" instead of ISIS.
September 25, 2014 -- Updated 1319 GMT (2119 HKT)
The United States couldn't do it on its first try. Neither could the Soviets.
September 24, 2014 -- Updated 1529 GMT (2329 HKT)
CNN's Nima Elbagir reflects on a harrowing trip to Liberia where she covered the deadliest Ebola outbreak in history.
September 26, 2014 -- Updated 1423 GMT (2223 HKT)
Contrary to public opinion, rats can actually save lives -- Apopo's rats have actually saved thousands.
October 1, 2014 -- Updated 1255 GMT (2055 HKT)
Each day, CNN brings you an image capturing a moment to remember, defining the present in our changing world.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT