Marikana outcome was unintended: Phiyega

By Drum Digital
26 March 2013

The police intervention plan for the troubled Marikana mines was good but got disrupted, national police chief Riah Phiyega said on Tuesday.

Because of this disruption the outcome that included the shooting deaths of 34 striking mineworkers was unintended, she told the Farlam commission of inquiry in Rustenburg.

Evidence leader Mbuyiseli Madlanga, SC, asked the police commissioner whether the police intervention could be described as a success.

"Taking into account all the factors you have referred to, would you say that the operation was a success?" he said.

"On August 16, we do know that 34 people were killed and more than 70 were injured. I want you to make a judgment and tell this commission whether based on the SA police Service's own tests, you can say the (Marikana) operation was a success?"

Phiyega said: "I think I need to be responsible when answering. I have said the plan was good, and it was disrupted. It is important for me to take all those issues into context.

"The outcome was intended. The plan was good, it was disrupted and we had an unintended outcome. We cannot have a simplified definition of success; it would be a broad definition of success."

Madlanga said the evidence leading team would argue that the Marikana operation was chaotic and did not represent the best of responsible policing.

He was referring to Phiyega's contentious statement, made on August 17 at Lonmin mine.

In it the police commissioner said "whatever happened represents the best of responsible policing".

Phiyega said she wanted Madlanga to assist her with the definition of ‘success'.

"I do believe that the police, in terms of how they negotiated, how they tried to assist, that was well done," she said.

Earlier, Madlanga quizzed Phiyega over the extract from her August 17 statement.

Madlanga said: "National commissioner, when you say ‘whatever happened', what do you mean?"

Phiyega responded: "I mean the work we had done, that is what I was talking about. The policing and the prescripts of policing."

Madlanga continued: "Commissioner, prescripts do not do anything. Prescripts tell you what you may do. The people who actually do anything are operational people. If you were not referring to that which the police did, what were you referring to?"

Ishmael Semenya, SC, for the police, interjected, saying the commissioner had answered Madlanga's question. Retired judge Ian Farlam, chairman of the three-member commission, overruled Semenya's objection.

Madlanga asked: "I want to get to the bottom of what she was talking about.

"She is not answering the question. She keeps referring to prescripts and so on. I want that 'work' she was talking about?"

Phiyega said the police's work at the Lonmin platinum mine in Marikana had been well articulated at the commission of inquiry.

On August 16 last year, 34 striking mineworkers were shot dead and 78 were injured when the police opened fire near Lonmin's platinum mine in Marikana.

Ten people, including two police officers and two security guards, were killed near the mine in the preceding week.

-by Sapa

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