Phiyega forgot Marikana detail

By Drum Digital
10 September 2014

National police commissioner Riah Phiyega cannot remember the details of the plan to disarm Marikana miners, the Farlam Commission of Inquiry heard.

National police commissioner Riah Phiyega cannot remember the details of the plan to disarm Marikana miners, the Farlam Commission of Inquiry heard on Wednesday. "Chairperson, I have indicated that the details of the discussions, unfortunately, my mind doesn't take me that far," she told the commission's public hearings in Pretoria. "The discussions were around the plan to encircle and disarm those people".

"Regarding the detail of discussion, as you are asking, I am not able to give".

She was being questioned by the inquiry's chairman, retired judge Ian Farlam, regarding a meeting senior police officials held in Midrand on August 15, 2012, when the police's intervention plan for Marikana was adopted.

"We were comfortable as leaders that there were people managing what was taking place. We were taking feedback, listening. We were endorsing because the nitty gritties of the plan were where the operation was taking place."

Farlam responded: "We will deal with that. I am not interested in whether you knew the nitty gritties. I am interested in... finding out the course of the discussion.

"The fact that people there all agreed to make resources available as required, surely means they cannot evade responsibility. I must tell you, I expected one or two people at that meeting to say 'hang on, let us interrogate this proposal'. You can't remember anybody doing that?"

Farlam said he and Phiyega had to agree to disagree. He asked how the meeting could endorse the intervention plan without having thorough knowledge of it.

Phiyega said: "I am not able to say Phiyega said this, and someone said this. I am saying to you that detail is not what is in my head."

In her previous appearance at the commission last year, she was questioned about the police's role during the August 2012 strike at Lonmin's platinum mine in Marikana.

At the time, she was accused of being evasive.

"You're the most evasive witness I've ever spoken to," Dali Mpofu, representing miners arrested and injured during the unrest, told her.

Relatives of the slain miners walked out of proceedings when Phiyega repeatedly failed to answer questions about video footage played to the commission. The commission is investigating the deaths of 44 people during the strike-related violence at Lonmin's Marikana mine.

Police opened fire on a group of striking mineworkers, killing 34 on August 16, 2012. Around 70 people were injured while over 200 were arrested. Police claimed they were trying to disperse and disarm them. Ten people, including two policemen and two Lonmin security guards, were killed in the unrest in the preceding week.

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