Police videographers seen as spies

2013-04-17 22:04
Riah Phiyega (Picture: AP)

Riah Phiyega (Picture: AP)

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Rustenburg - Striking Marikana miners suspected police officials tasked to take video footage of the strike were spies, the Farlam Commission of Inquiry heard on Wednesday.

During cross-examination at the commission in Rustenburg, national police commissioner Riah Phiyega said officers received information that their lives were in danger and therefore had to withdraw from the area.

As a result, police officials were unable to provide videos of how the Marikana shooting on 16 August last year unfolded.

Several weeks before the shooting Phiyega signed a document issuing instructions that police had to ensure they recorded videos of all public unrest they attended to.

Phiyega said there was no provision for this instruction.

Dumisa Ntsebeza, for the families of the dead miners, said police withdrew and stopped filming in several areas around Marikana around 13:30 on 16 August.

At 16:00 they opened fire on the protesters, killing 34. He questioned Phiyega on whether the reason the police had provided for not having the visuals was acceptable.

"The explanation in the report, I, Riah, accept."

She said she learnt of "gaps in the information" once she and the other police commanders started preparing for the commission.

It is investigating the killing of 44 people during wage-related unrest in Marikana in August last year.

Phiyega said she did not make any further inquiries into the missing video evidence as she believed provincial police commissioner General Zukiswa Mbombo would have done so if she saw fit.

Phiyega said she did not believe the missing video evidence could have been concealed by police officials who were perhaps filmed doing things they were not supposed to.

Ntsebeza pointed out to Phiyega that the video evidence submitted by police did not show them utilising minimum force.

"Yes, there's no footage [of them using minimum force]. We had a plan and that plan was disrupted," she said.

She maintained the disruption affected the police's ability to record themselves throughout the Marikana operation. The police only supplied two videos of the Marikana shootings to the commission.

Action will be taken

Earlier, Phiyega said it had not been confirmed that police shot dead the 34 miners killed at Marikana.

"I understand that 34 miners were killed, but to say who killed them I cannot comment on that," said Phiyega.

A report handed in by SAPS later confirmed the police shot the miners.

Ntsebeza said the report showed police were not disputing they shot the miners, but the argument was the circumstances behind the killings.

According to the report, 30 of the miners died on the scene while four others died in hospital, Ntsebeza said.

Phiyega said none of the police officers deployed to Marikana had been suspended or charged for their role in the killings.

Ntsebeza asked Phiyega whether she considered disciplinary action against the officers, including those who had failed to make the recordings, since they had failed to comply with her instructions.

"When the commission is concluded and evidence is brought forward... relevant remedial action will be taken," she said.

"I shall not pre-empt the outcomes of the proceedings," she said.

Ntsebeza was expected to continue cross-examining Phiyega on Thursday.

Read more on:    police  |  dumisa ntsebeza  |  riah phiyega  |  mahikeng  |  marikana inquiry  |  mining unrest

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