South African police admitted on Monday that the killing of 34 miners two months ago was probably an extreme measure.
“The situation got out of control,” police lawyer Ishmael Semenya told an inquiry investigating the August 16 miner shooting deaths during a strike at of the Lonmin-operated Marikana platinum mine in Rustenburg, reported AFP.
“The evidence may reveal that the response of the police may have been disproportionate,” he was quoted as saying. The police shot at the miners without receiving orders to do so.
But despite admitting that the shooting was a drastic measure, Semenya said police were defending themselves.
“The use of lethal force was the last possible resort,” he added. “There was no murderous intent from the part of the police service.”
Semenya, however, stressed that the protesters were getting out of control. He told the inquiry that a leader of the strike, Mgcineni Noki, announced on the day of the police shooting: “We are going to kill one another today,” according to News24.
Police then setup a barbed-wire barrier to prevent striking miners from getting inside the Lonmin facility, but they eventually broke through it.
Semenya also said his office has video evidence of the striking miners inciting violence against the officers and firing shots at them, reported Eyewitness News.
On September 18, Lonmin agreed to give a 22-percent pay raise to the miners, ending the strike.
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