Marikana: Police threatened to kill senior officer

2013-05-06 15:02

Police officers threatened to kill Major General William Mpembe following the murders of two of their colleagues during the Lonmin wage-related unrest, the Farlam commission of inquiry has heard.

They blamed Mpembe, who is North West deputy police commissioner, for the deaths of their colleagues, said Lieutenant Colonel Solomon Vermaak. The threats were made on August 13 2012.

Police shot dead 34 striking mine workers while trying to disperse a group on a hill near Lonmin’s platinum mine in Marikana, North West, on August 16 last year.

In the preceding week, 10 people, including two policemen and security guards, were killed in strike-related violence. The policemen were hacked to death.

Vermaak’s voice is reportedly that which the commission earlier heard on a recorded communication from a helicopter ordering police at Marikana to engage with the workers at the hill.

In his statement, Vermaak told the commission, sitting at the Rustenburg Civic Centre, that police had said Mpembe would lie down and die with the officers the strikers had killed.

He had advised that Mpembe be withdrawn from the area. However, Mpembe was not withdrawn.

Under cross-examination today, Major General Charl Annandale, who headed the police’s tactical operations team at Marikana, said a final decision on whether to withdraw Mpembe would have been made by provincial police commissioner Lieutenant General Zukiswa Mbombo.

George Bizos for the Legal Resource Centre and the Bench Marks Foundation asked Annandale whether the threats could have resulted in Mpembe failing to conduct his duties.

“I had no reason to believe that he had been affected,” Annandale replied.

The commission, chaired by retired judge Ian Farlam, is investigating the circumstances of the 44 deaths.

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