Phiyega will not speculate

By Drum Digital
04 April 2013

It was unclear whether national police chief Riah Phiyega would take responsibility for police action in the Marikana shooting, the Farlam commission heard on Thursday.

Phiyega declined to say how she would deal with a finding that police used excessive force when shooting dead 34 striking miners at Lonmin's platinum mine in Marikana on August 16 last year.

"I will deal with it when we get there," she told the commission.

The outcome of the commission would determine how she handled the matter.

"At this point in time, may I be allowed to not comment on that," she said.

This is Phiyega's third week of testifying at the commission's public hearings in Rustenburg.

In the morning she told the commission she did not read an affidavit she signed before a commissioner of oaths.

"I do submit that I didn't read it because I thought I was simply correcting (an omitted initial)," Phiyega said.

The document contains details of the police's role in the shooting on August 16 last year.

Two affidavits were submitted by Phiyega's lawyers. Page seven of the first affidavit contains only the commissioner of oaths' initials.

The second features both Phiyega and the commissioner of oaths' initials, but Phiyega said that copy was incorrect.

She said what she signed before the commissioner of oaths on March 12 was a draft version of her statement, which she thought had been corrected and updated on March 7.

"For me, it was the same statement... I looked at where I did not sign and I signed."

Legally, Phiyega would have needed to be sworn in by the commissioner of oaths. Both of them would have needed to initial all the pages of the document after having read through it.

Phiyega said she and her lawyers had already informed the commission of this discrepancy.

"I said to my lawyer that there's a discrepancy between my statement and one commissioned because one (of them) was just a draft," said Phiyega.

A paragraph on page seven of Phiyega's first affidavit, which she had not initialled, states: "On the afternoon of August 16 2012, I received a call from Lt General Mbombo who informed me of the decision to implement a dispersal operation of the plan."

The second affidavit, which contained Phiyega's signature, says: "On the afternoon of August 16th 2012, I received a call from Lt General Mbombo who informed me of the decision to implement stage 3 of the plan, which information I relayed to the minister."

Phiyega said the contents of the second statement, which she had drafted, were false.

Schalk Burger SC, for Lonmin, asked Phiyega how she could have made such a mistake on her own draft.

She replied that she typed the document, and forwarded it to her secretary.

She was given a hard copy of her statement and realised it had errors about her communication with the minister.

Phiyega said she then made changes on the hard copy itself and returned it for the changes to be made.

-by Sapa

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