Marikana: Phiyega knew nothing about first shot fired

2013-05-28 15:32

National Police Commissioner Riah Phiyega knew about efforts to disarm and arrest miners at Marikana last year, but nothing about the actual operations police carried out, the Marikana Commission of Inquiry has heard.

“The objectives ... were to encircle, disarm and arrest those who were breaking the law. I do not know about the nitty-gritty of the operations. Police generals who were there would answer that ... I was not there,” she told Dali Mpofu, who is representing the wounded and arrested miners. Mpofu was cross-examining Phiyega.

The commission, sitting on its 100th day in Rustenburg, is chaired by retired judge Ian Farlam.

It is investigating the circumstances surrounding the deaths of 44 people during the unrest near Lonmin’s platinum mine in Marikana last year.

On August 16, police shot dead 34 miners. In the preceding week, 10 people, including two police officers and security guards, were killed.

Mpofu questioned Phiyega about police operations and their planning.

“By the time the first live bullet shot was fired, people had already descended from the koppie. Would you dispute that?” Mpofu asked Phiyega.

Phiyega said she would neither agree nor disagree.

“I was not at the scene and I am not able to answer that. I don’t know.”

She knew about the “broad framework” and knew nothing about the first shot fired.

Ishmael Semenya, for the police, said Phiyega was not part of the operations.

“These questions can only be answered by those who were on the scene. The witness (Phiyega) does not have such information,” Semenya said.

Mpofu asked Phiyega whether she, when told about implementation of stage three (of the police plan) by North West provincial commissioner Lieutenant General Zukiswa Mbombo, asked what stage three entailed.

It previously emerged at the commission that during stage three miners were shot at with live ammunition.

“Surely you had a fundamental understanding of the broad framework? You would ask what stage three was all about?”

Phiyega said: “As I stated, there was a plan to disarm and disperse those who gathered. I think commanders will help with that.”

She said she knew Mbombo and her team were going to carry out the stated objectives.

“Whether they were going to deploy so many numbers of water tanks or hand grenades ... I do not know.”

Farlam asked Phiyega whether she knew what stages one and two entailed.

“I know the stages in the broad framework plan were to negotiate with the group, encircle, disarm and arrest. I knew my team had been negotiating with those who had gathered,” she said.

Farlam asked:” Did you know that after stage three, there had been stages four, five, and six?”

Phiyega said she did not know.

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