Lawyer likens Marikana shooting to apartheid massacre


Shooting Deathsource: Agence France-Presse
published: 27 March 2014

Prominent rights activist George Bizos Wednesday accused South African police of apartheid-era brutality during an inquiry into the killing of 34 striking miners, after an officer testified he was told to take the blame for the crackdown.

Bizos, who was a close friend and lawyer of Nelson Mandela, said police was using the same excuse to justify the killing as that used following the 1960 Sharpeville Massacre, when apartheid police killed scores of protesters in a blacks-only area outside Johannesburg.

The lawyer drew the parallel while cross-examining air wing commander Salmon Vermaak, who earlier said his superiors had asked him to assume responsibility for the deadly police crackdown at the Marikana mine northwest of Johannesburg in 2012.

“Since Sharpeville there has been a stratagem on police violence against people of not appointing anybody to be in control,” Bizos said.

“This will help them to say we were under attack and we shot in self-defence. In this case there may have been the same stratagem,” he told Vermaak.

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