Phiyega concerned over police deaths

2013-06-11 14:33
Riah Phiyega (Picture: AP)

Riah Phiyega (Picture: AP)

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Pretoria - The number of police officers killed on duty is a worry, national police commissioner Riah Phiyega told the Farlam Commission of Inquiry on Tuesday.

"We recognise the fact that policing is not an easy task... especially when you have to confront criminals," Phiyega told the commission sitting in Centurion.

Advocate Louis Gumbi, representing the Police and Prisons' Civil Rights Union (Popcru) and warrant officer Sello Lepaku's family, started his cross-examination of Phiyega shortly after 10:00 on Tuesday.

Striking Lonmin mineworkers hacked Lepaku to death on 13 August.

Gumbi was focusing on the killing of officers and the fact that 82 officers were killed in the country in the last financial year.

He questioned the commissioner over the conditions police faced when dealing with protests.

Phiyega told the commission that there were protests where the circumstances led officers into vulnerable situations.

She said she recognised that as a result of confrontation with criminals, officers experienced "a lot of trauma", adding that steps had been taken to counsel officers and to train them to be better equipped for such situations.

Gumbi said Lepaku had been an officer for 23 years and had no disciplinary action against him.

"The qualities Lepaku had, are these not the qualities of a good officer? Are these not the types of officers you need in your service?" he asked Phiyega.

She responded: "You are very right."

Police plan

On Thursday, advocate Dali Mpofu, for the injured and arrested miners, finished weeks of cross-examination of Phiyega.

Mpofu accused Phiyega of being deceitful in accepting her commanders' reasons why the police plan at Marikana resulted in deaths.

He said she failed to properly investigate claims that the police planted weapons on some of the miners after shooting them.

Phiyega dismissed the criticism as invalid and said one of the experts she appointed to investigate was a top detective, and that she had accepted his report.

The commission is probing the deaths of 44 people during an unprotected strike at Lonmin Platinum's mine in Marikana, North West, in August last year.

Gumbi indicated that Popcru would withdraw from the commission once he finished cross-examining Phiyega.

The hearing continues.

- SAPA

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