Knives out for renegade cop

2014-04-20 15:00

The senior officer who refused to take the fall for the police at the Marikana Commission of Inquiry will be recalled to the stand after two police ­officers changed their written statements and implicated him.

He refused to do so, and was the only witness from the police so far who has not been represented by SA Police Service (SAPS) lawyers.

Constable Joseph Sekgweleya, an officer from the police’s Rustenburg cluster; and Sergeant Nkosana Mguye from the North West Tactical Response Team, Rustenburg Unit, first wrote ­affidavits days after 34 ­miners were shot dead on August 16 2012.

These affidavits are contained in a list of exhibits held by the commission. Lieutenant Colonel Salmon ­Vermaak spent weeks on the stand at the commission.

He alleged in his testimony that national police commissioner General Riah Phiyega and North West commissioner Zukiswa Mbombo had told him he should take the blame for the miners’ deaths.

Vermaak is still due to be cross-examined. Lawyers for the SAPS have submitted supplementary statements on behalf of Mguye and

Sekgweleya, which are vastly different from their ­original affidavits.

These new statements, and the initial affidavits, only deal with the events of August 13, when two police officers were hacked to death by miners near a ­railway station.

The pair’s initial affidavits did not mention ­Vermaak at all – either as giving orders, being on the ground or chasing a group of miners.

But in Sekgweleya and Mguye’s supplementary statements, Vermaak is placed at the heart of that day’s operation and is described as giving orders.

City Press has reliably learnt that although ­Vermaak has already stepped down from the witness box, he will be recalled at a later stage so the police’s legal team can cross-examine him. It is not yet clear when this will happen.

The police’s apparent unwillingness to support one of its own hasn’t gone unnoticed.

The supplementary statements were handed in on April?8. On that day, commission chairperson Judge Ian Farlam said: “I wonder whether the

fairest thing is to say [to Vermaak] that we seriously suggest he gets independent legal advice.

“I understand, I’m not sure whether the police have agreed to it yet but I would imagine the police are certainly morally obliged to enable him to get legal representation as they were representing him at an earlier stage and if he is to be cross-examined on these statements, then he should be ­cross-examined in the presence of his own legal ­representative.”

The commission is due to resume on Tuesday.

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