Lawyer hints at Marikana cop cover-up

2013-04-17 15:48

A lawyer representing victims of the Marikana shootings has suggested that police may have withheld crucial video footage from the Marikana Commission of Inquiry.

The inquiry is probing the deaths of 44 people who died during a strike by Lonmin mine workers in August last year. Police shot and killed 34 of the 44 people on August 16.

Dumisa Ntsebeza said, during cross-examination of National Police Commissioner Riah Phiyega, that a police witness who attended an SA Police Service (SAPS) meeting had testified that they had been told video footage had been taken by the police, but it was not shown.

Ntsebeza was referring to a meeting of police officials in Potchefstroom last year, where they gathered to compile a presentation for the commission.

Ntsebeza asked Phiyega if the reason there was no video footage of events of August 16 presented before the commission was because it didn’t exist or if it wasn’t made available.

Phiyega said she had been told there was no video footage available because police videographers had been withdrawn from the scene where the mine workers had gathered, as their lives were in danger.

Ntsebeza has argued that, despite the police’s submission that they were forced to withdraw their videographers from the operation, they should have made available footage taken from water canon trucks or other vehicles.

Ntsebeza has previously argued that a police video of the events, which was shot from a helicopter, was “a National Geographic film”, in that it did not capture any incidents, but instead focused on the landscape around the scene of the shootings.

Lawyers for the victims of the shootings have questioned the purpose of the SAPS Potchefstroom meeting, making inferences that it could have been used to cover up certain aspects of the operation.

Earlier today, Phiyega raised eyebrows when she told the Marikana Commission of Inquiry she did not know if police had killed 34 people at Marikana on August 16 last year.

Phiyega was asked by Ntsebeza why she had moved swiftly to suspend police officers implicated in the torture and murder of Mozambican national Mido Macia, after she had seen video footage of that incident.

She said there was enough evidence in Macia’s case to effect the suspensions, but she said she did not know who had shot whom at Marikana.

The hearing continues.

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