Top cop: Marikana decision not diarised

2014-02-11 18:38
National police commissioner General Riah Phiyega. Picture: Sapa

National police commissioner General Riah Phiyega. Picture: Sapa

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Pretoria - A decision to disarm and arrest Marikana miners in August 2012 did not warrant a diary entry, North West police chief Lieutenant General Zukiswa Mbombo said on Tuesday.

"I make many decisions but policies that govern my functions do not dictate that I should write down every decision I make," she said in Pretoria.

Mbombo was being cross-examined by Schalk Burger, SC, for Lonmin, at the Farlam Commission of Inquiry into the August 2012 events at Lonmin's platinum mine at Marikana, near Rustenburg, North West.

Burger asked Mbombo to explain whether she recorded important decisions she made, particularly in relation to the 10 500 officers under her charge in the province.

She said her diary was not with her, but was hand-written by her secretary in the office.

Burger went on: "I take it that you dictate to the secretary notes of important events taking place in your official function as provincial commissioner? Such [should] include a decision to embark on a major disarm, arrest and disperse exercise?"

Mbombo said she had not seen the need for a diary entry for that intervention at Marikana. "Everything that was happening there, an entry had been made in the occurrence book on the 13th [August 2012]," she said.

She agreed, however, with Burger that making a diary entry would have helped the inquiry probe the "unfolding drama" at Marikana.

Burger then asked Mbombo to explain how she fared in her performance evaluations done by national police commissioner Riah Phiyega. Mbombo said after the Marikana shootings, she was assessed by Phiyega in the national commissioner's Pretoria offices in June 2013.

She said Marikana featured in the assessment. She said what went wrong at Marikana was, however, not discussed in that meeting.

"The national commissioner was mostly interested in the way the operation was conducted, taking into account the resources that were available to the officers.

"She wanted to know what we were doing to help... the officers who were involved at Marikana. Our discussion ended there," said Mbombo.

Burger asked why Phiyega had not raised issues including the faulty radio systems which officers said affected the Marikana operation on 16 August 2012.

Mbombo responded: "I am only talking about what the national commissioner asked me about. I cannot remember what was not asked."

Burger said he had a list of other issues he expected Phiyega to have raised when she engaged Mbombo.

"Do you a get a report from the national commissioner, after that review, like a school report to say you did well in this and that?"

Mbombo said she received her feedback and would bring it to the inquiry.

She told the inquiry, chaired by retired judge Ian Farlam, that her annual budget was R467m, excluding salaries.

The commission is probing the deaths of 44 people in Marikana. On 16 August 2012, 34 people, mostly striking miners, were shot dead and 78 people were wounded when police fired on a group gathered at a hill near the mine. They were trying to disperse and disarm them.

In the preceding week, 10 people, including two policemen and two security guards, were killed in strike-related violence.

The public hearings continue.

Read more on:    zukiswa mbombo  |  riah phiyega  |  marikana inquiry

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