I saw cops being killed – commissioner at Marikana

2013-06-07 13:16

North West deputy provincial commissioner Major-General William Mpembe told the Marikana Commission of Inquiry how he saw two police officers being hacked to death during the Marikana unrest last year.

Mpembe today said the two officers, Tsietsi Monene and Sello Lepaku, were killed as police escorted striking mine workers on August 13.

“I heard (tear gas) shooting. I then realised that strikers had turned against police. It wasn’t a very good scene ... ,” he said.

“I saw warrant officer Monene being chopped and killed in front of me ... I saw how officer Lepaku was killed.”

Several of the officers’ family members were upset by Mpembe’s testimony and left the auditorium in Centurion.

“Captain Baloyi defended himself ... At the same time, the police came to his rescue and he was taken to hospital,” said Mpembe.

The strikers robbed the dead officers of their pistols, a shotgun and a rifle.

Mpembe said he then decided police should withdraw and return to the joint operations centre.

He later identified the officer who had fired the tear gas when the strikers turned on police.

“He said he had heard an order (to fire), but he couldn’t tell me who gave the order,” said Mpembe.

“The emotions were extremely high, but as a senior officer, I tried to cool down the members,” he added.

Mpembe said he was then approached by Lieutenant Colonel Salmon Vermaak, who told him that his life was in danger.

A statement by Vermaak stated that other officers had blamed Mpembe for the deaths of their colleagues.

They claimed to have been against Mpembe’s instruction to go after the armed strikers.

Mpembe said he told Vermaak he would not withdraw from the operation until he had handed over to Major-General Ganasen Naidoo.

The commission heard that the officers were killed just several hours after Mpembe’s arrival at Marikana.

He said he had been on leave and was called to Marikana by provincial police commissioner Major-General Luzuko Mbombo that morning.

National police commissioner General Riah Phiyega then appointed him overall commander of the operation.

The commission, chaired by retired Judge Ian Farlam, is investigating the circumstances that led to the deaths of 44 people during the unrest at Lonmin’s platinum mine in Marikana last year.

Police shot dead 34 striking mine workers on August 16. Another 10 people, including two police officers and two security guards, were killed in the preceding week.

Mpembe, led by Vuyani Ngalwana, is delivering his evidence-in-chief before the commission.

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


How to open a beer bottle without an opener

Do the right thing and never be thirsty again…


You won't want to miss...

WATCH: Man films himself going down water slide upside down as things go very wrong…
WATCH: Conor McGregor: Notorious the trailer
Best date night restaurants in South Africa
WATCH: Ryan Reynolds offers fans a free tattoo in new Deadpool 2 teaser
Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.