Phiyega to testify at Marikana commission

By Drum Digital
14 March 2013

National police commissioner Ria Phiyega is expected to testify before the Farlam Commission of Inquiry on police conduct that left 34 striking miners dead on August 16.

Phiyega was expected to testify on Wednesday and arrived at the Rustenburg Civic Centre in the morning but had to wait for Lonmin miner Mzoxolo Magidiwana to finish giving evidence.

The commissioner was expected to shed light on various questions including who told the police to use live ammunition on protesting miners.

In October, George Bizos SC, for the Legal Resources Centre and the Bench Marks Foundation, told the commission that the conduct of the police officers was "unique" and said he and his team would lead evidence to prove that the shootings on August 16 were acts of revenge by police officers for the earlier deaths of their colleagues.

The commission is probing the deaths of 44 people during an unprotected strike at Lonmin's platinum mine in Marikana. On August 16, 34 striking mineworkers were shot dead and 78 injured when the police opened fire while trying to disperse a group gathered on a hill near the mine.

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

On August 17, Phiyega said the police had use "force to protect themselves" from the group of protesting miners who refused to dispearse peacefully.

Phiyega said that as commissioner she "gave police the responsibility to execute the task they needed to do".

Magidiwana broke down and cried twice before he wrapped up giving evidence on Wednesday.

The commission is expected to start at 9.30am.

-by Sapa

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