Mthethwa gave us support - Phiyega

2013-03-19 12:53
Riah Phiyega (Picture: AP)

Riah Phiyega (Picture: AP)

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Family breaks down at Marikana Inquiry

2013-03-15 08:38

A family member cried uncontrollably as national police chief Riah Phiyega voiced condolences to those affected at the Marikana shooting in the North West. Watch.WATCH

kalahari.com

Rustenburg - The role Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa played before and after the 16 August shooting in Marikana was questioned at the Farlam Commission of Inquiry on Tuesday.

This came as national police commissioner Riah Phiyega was cross examined by evidence leader Mbuyiseli Madlanga.

Madlanga asked what specific support the minister gave Phiyega on 16 August.

Phiyega said: "He gave us political support."

Madlanga responded: "Am I right to say you cannot be specific on the political direction nor can you be specific on the political support you received from the police minister?"

Phiyega, dressed in a black skirt-suit with a yellow jacket, said: "I have said he has given us leadership, he has given us political support that enabled us to do our work."

Madlanga said Phiyega's evidence did not suggest any initiative made by the minister.

"What, if anything, did the minister of police do about the killings at Marikana?" Madlanga asked.

Support

Phiyega responded: "My minister was personally here. The minister was part of the inter-ministerial committee that did a lot of work in the commission... In his political role he gave us political support."

However, Madlanga said he wanted to know what the minister did prior to the killings on 16 August.

Once again, Phiyega referred him to her statement, adding that Mthethwa gave her and her operational team support, though he was not involved in operations.

The commission heard that it was necessary for Phiyega to inform Mthethwa about the "killing of human beings that are of an unusually high scale".

When asked if it was an "unusually high scale of killings in a small environment", Phiyega responded: "I do agree that it was significant."

Phiyega said she kept Mthethwa informed in her "normal reporting" to him on what was happening at Marikana through phone calls and internal notices and statements.

Midnight update

Madlanga tried to establish whether Phiyega had called Mthethwa by midnight on 13 August about the five people killed at Lonmin Platinum's Marikana mine. She kept referring him to her statement.

Phiyega said: "In my statements I mentioned dates and I have said that I continuously gave updates to the minister."

Madlanga responded: "General, this is a simple question... Did you inform the minister by midnight on 13 Augustof the five killings?"

Speaking softly, Phiyega said: "I informed the minister on what happened at Marikana since the ninth. I can't remember if I called him at 12 midnight on 13 August."

Thursday last week was the first time Phiyega gave evidence on the role played by the police in the events leading up to and on 16 August last year.

On that day, 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.

Madlanga indicated that he would deal with the speech Phiyega delivered on 17 August.

The hearings continue at the Rustenburg Civic Centre.

- SAPA

Read more on:    lonmin  |  riah phiyega  |  mahikeng  |  marikana inquiry  |  police
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