Phiyega stands by police

2012-08-18 00:00

NATIONAL Police Commissioner Riah Phiyega stood by her police officers yesterday, saying their actions were within the confines of the law and had her blessing.

Refering to the shooting in Marikana, she said, “As the police commissioner, I gave the police officers the mandate to execute their duties as they needed to.”

The death toll of the miners in Marikana stood at 34, with 76 injured and in hospital and 259 others arrested on charges including public violence, attempted murder and murder.

Among the six firearms recovered was one confirmed to have been that of a police officer who was killed earlier in the week.

Phiyega described a timeline that showed the tensions at Marikana escalating in the past week and exploding into a bloodbath on Thursday.

She said police had tried in vain to disarm and disperse the crowd peacefully.

“The various union leaders had tried to get them to disperse peacefully without success.”

When the police tried to erect a barbed wire cordon, the crowd rushed down the mountains, leading to the shootout with the police.

“A militant armed group approached the police officers and they had no option but to use maximum force.”

Phiyega called for calm and said this was not the time for blame or for finger-pointing, but rather a time for mourning as a country.

In a statement, the parliamentary police committee expressed deep shock and sadness over the shooting. It said it supported the request by Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa to President Jacob Zuma to institute an urgent commission of inquiry.

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