Phiyega doesn't know how plan failed

2013-04-04 22:45
Riah Phiyega (File: AP)

Riah Phiyega (File: AP)

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Rustenburg - National police commissioner Riah Phiyega does not know how the police's plan to disperse striking Marikana mineworkers failed, the Farlam Commission of Inquiry heard on Thursday.

Police shot dead 34 mineworkers during a wage-related strike at Lonmin's platinum mine on 16 August last year.

Dali Mpofu, for the injured and arrested miners, said when Phiyega was previously questioned she said the police had a plan in place, but that it failed because it was disrupted. Mpofu asked Phiyega to explain how, and at what point, the disruption occurred.

"Let me not contaminate that space," Phiyega replied.

"The people who were there can give you [an account] of what happened."

Mpofu said Phiyega's answer suggested she did not know how the plan failed. He quizzed her on why police had not warned protesters of their intentions [to use live bullets, water cannons, rubber bullets, and stun grenades].

Apartheid police would give warnings prior to an attack and give demonstrators time to disperse before they acted, Mpofu said.

Phiyega said police had not been given a chance to communicate their plan to the miners.

"Part of the plan would have been for the cops to place the barbed wire, call the protesters and get them to place their weapons down, but the plan was disrupted," said Phiyega.

Mpofu asked how long it would have taken the police to warn the protesters what would happen if they failed to surrender their weapons and disperse.

Plan disrupted

In answering the question, Phiyega accidentally called Mpofu by his first name.

"Dali...," she began, before laughing at what she had said. Starting his cross-examination on Thursday, Mpofu pointed out that he knew Phiyega in a greater capacity than him being a lawyer.

"Advocate Mpofu, our plan was usurped," she finally said when she answered the question.

"That the plan was disrupted was a fact that I stand by."

A member of the public attending the hearings, being held in Rustenburg, shook his head in disagreement and uttered words of dissatisfaction at Phiyega's response.

She previously told the commission that what happened at Marikana was regrettable and unprecedented.

On Thursday, she clarified that everything prior to the shooting had a precedent and police had been planning to handle Marikana the same way they had dealt with other protests and events.

"In the morning, the situation was not unprecedented because an assessment [of the situation] had been done... Threat assessment progressed and that was taken into consideration before a plan was made."

She said snipers were deployed during the 2010 World Cup even though it was a peaceful event.

There was therefore nothing new in special task teams, national intervention unit and tactical response teams being sent to Marikana.

Phiyega's cross-examination was expected to continue on Friday.

- SAPA
Read more on:    lonmin  |  police  |  riah phiyega  |  dali mpofu  |  mahikeng  |  marikana inquiry  |  mining unrest
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