Marikana mine victims: police 'planted' weapons

Photos of protest, in which 34 miners were killed, back claims that South African officers tampered with the crime scene

Two sets of photographs taken during and after the Marikana miners' massacre in South Africa have led to accusations that weapons may have been planted on their bodies by police.

One set of pictures taken at night on 16 August after 34 striking mine workers were shot dead by police show traditional weapons, including machetes and spears, next to several of the corpses. Another series shot earlier that day show a number of the same victims to be unarmed.

The veteran human rights lawyer, George Bizos, accused the police of tampering with the crime scene. "There was a deliberate attempt to defeat the ends of justice after the events took place," he told a commission of inquiry into the killings.

The Marikana deaths were the worst state violence since the end of apartheid in 1994 and have led to calls for South Africa's President, Jacob Zuma, to stand down as leader of the ruling African National Congress (ANC). Forty-six people including two policemen were killed during six weeks of strikes at the platinum mine northwest of Johannesburg.

Police accounts of the killings said that thousands of striking workers armed with traditional weapons had charged police lines forcing officers to first fire rubber bullets then automatic weapons into the mob.

The 16 August killings followed lethal clashes between members of two rival mining unions in which police had been killed.

Mr Bizos, who came to prominence defending Nelson Mandela at the 1963 Rivonia trial in which he escaped the death penalty, reviewed photographic evidence and called on the senior police officers responsible for the scene to give evidence to the commission, which will take four months to reach a conclusion.

In one set of photos a man's mangled dead body lies alone in the daylight, and in a picture taken with a flash after dark, there is a machete placed under his hand. The crime scene photographer, Captain Apollo Mohlaki, admitted that his later photographs showed more weapons than those taken earlier. Some police officials blamed the discrepancies on paramedics, who they claimed had removed the weapons while treating victims and later replaced them at the scene.

Videos watched by the commission also appeared to show that some of the dead miners were handcuffed, which would also contradict police accounts. In the immediate aftermath police sought to portray the striking workers as responsible for the violence. There was a national outcry when 270 of them were charged with murder over the August killings. Those charges, brought under laws dating back to the Apartheid era, were later dropped.

The Marikana massacre came amid escalating tensions between South African authorities and the country's disadvantaged black majority who feel left out of the economic benefits post-Apartheid. The former ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema, who has been expelled from the ruling party, exploited the killings to reiterate his calls for South Africa's mines to be nationalised.

Mining companies have warned that further state interference would be a disaster for the economically important sector. The government also opposes nationalisation but mining giant Lonmin was forced to climbdown after the marathon strikes by offering up to 22 per cent wage increases to miners and a one-off payment of $244 (£144).

President Zuma was accused of "going missing" in the wake of the miners' massacre and has been embroiled in a scandal over the use of public money to make improvements at his rural homestead in KwaZulu Natal. Most analysts expect him to retain his leadership of the ruling ANC at a party congress next month but a challenge from his vice president Kgalema Motlanthe is widely anticipated.

News
Alan Bennett has criticised the “repellent” reality shows which dominate our screens
tvBut he does like Stewart Lee
Life and Style
The Google Doodle celebrating the start of the first day of autumn, 2014.
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Ed Stoppard as her manager Brian Epstein
tvCilla Episode 2 review: Grit under the glamour in part two of biopic series starring Sheridan Smith
Sport
David Moyes and Louis van Gaal
football
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
i100
Life and Style
Vote with your wallet: the app can help shoppers feel more informed about items on sale
lifeNew app reveals political leanings of food companies
News
Former Governor of Alaska Sarah Palin, left, with her daughter, Bristol
newsShe's 'proud' of eldest daughter, who 'punched host in the face'
Sport
New Zealand fly-half Aaron Cruden pictured in The Zookeeper's Son on a late-night drinking session
rugby
Arts and Entertainment
Salmond told a Scottish television chat show in 2001that he would also sit in front of a mirror and say things like,
tvCelebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Life and Style
Carol O'Brien, whose son Rob suffered many years of depression
healthOne mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
Arts and Entertainment
The cover of Dark Side of the Moon
musicCan 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition? See for yourself
Life and Style
food + drink
News
Rob Merrick's Lobby Journalists were playing Ed Balls' Labour Party MPs. The match is an annual event which takes place ahead of the opening of the party conference
newsRob Merrick insistes 'Ed will be hurting much more than me'
News
A cabin crew member photographed the devastation after one flight
news
Voices
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
voicesMaybe the new app will make it more normal to reach out to strangers
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Pharmaceutical Computer System Validation Specialist

£300 - £350 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Pharmaceutical Computer ...

High Level Teaching Assistant (HTLA)

£70 - £90 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: Higher Level Teaching Assist...

Teaching Assistant

£50 - £80 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: Randstad Education is the UK...

Senior Java Developer - API's / Webservices - XML, XSLT

£400 - £450 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is currently ...

Day In a Page

Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits