Phiyega quizzed about expert witness

2013-03-25 21:01
Riah Phiyega (Picture: AP)

Riah Phiyega (Picture: AP)

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Rustenburg - National police chief Riah Phiyega was questioned at the Farlam Commission on Monday about evidence given on behalf of the SA Police Service (SAPS) by an international crime expert.

Evidence leader Mbuyiseli Madlanga read a statement by international law enforcement expert Cees de Rover about police officers' actions at Marikana, in North West, on 16 August.

That day, 34 striking mineworkers were shot dead and 78 were injured when the police opened fire while trying to disperse a group of striking mineworkers gathered on a hill near Lonmin's platinum mine in Marikana.

Ten people, including two police officers and two security guards, had been killed near the mine in the preceding week.

In his analysis, De Rover stated that after the initial shooting at what the commission has termed "Scene One", the commander should have called police officers to re-group and re-assess the situation.

"Problems with the analogue radio network conspired to prevent the overall commander to stay abreast of developments and to call a halt to police operations in a bid to re-group and re-assess.

"In the absence of a countermanding order, the implementation of the operation at scene two went ahead, with the on-scene commander unaware of the incidents that had just produced at scene one," De Rover found.

Madlanga said De Rover’s statement meant that if the on-scene commander had known the details of the initial shooting at scene one, the 18 who were killed at scene two would have survived.

"I read this [De Rover’s statement] to mean that had the overall commander followed all developments at scene one, he or she would have halted the [police] operation and the 18 people would not have died. Do you accept that?" Madlanga asked Phiyega.

"I don’t know," she replied.

Confused

After reading other extracts of De Rover’s analysis, Madlanga asked Phiyega whether she agreed that a commander who was in charge should have halted the police operation after the initial shooting.

Phiyega responded: "I said I do not know, because the commander is the person who can answer this."

Madlanga went on: "I am not asking you about your own knowledge. I am asking you about what the SAPS expert says.

"I am not asking whether you know for a fact what a commander would have done."

Speaking calmly, Phiyega insisted that she did not know.

Madlanga said: "National commissioner, what I am asking from you is meaning [of De Rover's statement].

"After your answers, I am confused at what your actual answer is. All I am asking for is meaning."

He told the chairman of the three-member commission, retired judge Ian Farlam that he was "confused by the lengthy and qualified responses" from Phiyega about "very simple questions".

Phiyega, in turn, said she was confused by Madlanga’s questions.

De Rover’s resume indicates that he has "over 25 years' of experience in policing and international developments".

He started off his career in the Dutch police force in 1980 and has worked with police forces in more than 60 countries.

In his analysis, he described himself as an independent expert and said his opinions were based on international legal standards which applied to law enforcement.

His submissions were made on behalf of the SAPS.

The public hearings continue on Tuesday.

Read more on:    lonmin  |  police  |  mahikeng  |  marikana inquiry  |  mining unrest

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