Marikana: Mpofu questions cops’ lawlessness

2013-06-06 14:47

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Media reports that 500 police officers were being investigated for murder, attempted murder, and fraud were discussed at the Marikana Commission of Inquiry.

Dali Mpofu, for the miners arrested and wounded during last year’s unrest at Lonmin’s platinum mine in Marikana, said today he heard the report on radio in the morning.

He raised the issue as he cross-examined national police commissioner General Riah Phiyega.

“Is that the level ... of lawlessness of police?” he asked her.

Ishmael Semenya, for the police, objected and asked whether the question was relevant.

In response, Mpofu said: “If the outcome of this commission is that police behaviour ... should be improved, then this can be used as a basis. Before you can diagnose a problem, you need to know the extent of the problem,” said Mpofu.

Commission chairman, retired Judge Ian Farlam, asked Phiyega whether the number of police officers currently being investigated by the Independent Police Investigative Directorate was about the same number as last year.

Phiyega said she did not believe the numbers had drastically escalated from August last year.

The commission, sitting in Centurion, is investigating the deaths of 44 people killed during the unrest. Police shot dead 34 striking mine workers on August 16. Ten people, including two police officers and security guards, were killed in the preceding week.

Earlier on Thursday, Mpofu suggested that police might have “misdiagnosed” the situation at Lonmin. If police did not have the correct details of the conflict, they could not have had an accurate plan to resolve it, he said.

“If I can prove at the end that there was a series of misdiagnoses of the situation, then the police’s plan was doomed to fail.”

Mpofu said police did not appropriately address the situation, as they believed the unrest was largely associated with union rivalry. Workers, however, also wanted higher wages.

The hearing continues.

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