Cop questioned over police training

2012-11-16 19:31
(Picture: Sapa)

(Picture: Sapa)

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Rustenburg - A police training co-ordinator was on Friday unable to answer questions on how police performed during the unrest at Lonmin's Marikana mine.

Asked to consider police conduct in light of the training the units received, Brigadier Petrus Breytenbach told the Farlam commission of inquiry in Rustenburg he would not speculate.

"I don't think it will be a fair conclusion, having seen only what was portrayed on television. I don't want to speculate."

Breytenbach was not part of the police operations from 9 to 16 August, which culminated in the deaths of 34 striking miners.

He said he had not attended a nine-day police meeting after the shootings, held in Potchefstroom, which sought to analyse police conduct at Marikana.

Breytenbach gave a presentation on the training provided to various police divisions deployed to Marikana. He outlined what each division was trained in, according to their mandates.

"The training intensity and skill level escalates as the threat level [which each division is most likely to face] increases," he said.

The unit requiring the highest level of training was the Specialised Task Force, as it dealt with high-risk situations.

Their duties included counteracting terrorism, crime-related high-risk operations, and the protection of VIPs.

Recruits could not be older than 32, Breytenbach said. They would be screened for phobias and were subjected to the "vasbyt" test, which placed them under extremely stressful situations to test their endurance.

Initial training lasted for 11 months, then, if successful, an additional five months of advanced training. There was only a 5% pass rate for this training, he said.

Earlier, a person tried to carry a gun into the commission, causing the venue to be evacuated. Commission spokesperson Kevin Malunga confirmed that police were questioning a woman.

"There was a significant security breach and we can't leave anything to chance," he told reporters outside the Rustenburg Civic Centre.

"No witness... is allowed with a firearm into the building."

This extended to police witnesses. The gun was found with the use of security scanning equipment.

The auditorium was declared safe again after a police sweep and the hearing resumed just before 11:00.

The commission resumes on Monday morning.

- SAPA
Read more on:    lonmin  |  mahikeng  |  marikana inquiry  |  mining unrest
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