Marikana: Phiyega maintains police acted in self-defence

2013-03-27 14:04

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

National police chief Riah Phiyega has maintained that police acted in self-defence when they opened fire on striking Marikana miners.

She was being cross-examined before the Farlam Commission of Inquiry today into the shooting at Lonmin’s platinum mine in Marikana, North West, on August 16 last year. Thirty-four miners were killed in the clash.

George Bizos, for the Legal Resources Centre and the Bench Marks Foundation, asked Phiyega to explain why there were no police casualties.

“With regard to those injuries, and the lack of any injury to any police officer, would you say the action of the police was proportional?” Bizos asked.

Phiyega said: “We are on record as saying indeed police were acting in self-defence. On the issue of proportionality (of the police’s action) I’m hoping that the debates from the experts, commanders and the outcome of this commission will give a judgment on that.

“I am not qualified and I am not comfortable to give an answer on the proportionality,” she said.

Bizos said: “Don’t the figures (of the killed and injured protesters) mean anything to you, commissioner? There was not a single scratch on any one of the few hundred police officers and so many injuries (on protesters). Do you say that is proportional?

“How did they manage to have not a single scratch if there was a threat as they describe? Please come to terms with the question. Was it (because) of the intelligent hand of the police? Doesn’t it sound strange to you?”

Phiyega replied: “I do want to say the police are trained. The police do their work professionally and I believe it is such elements which assist them to do their work in that manner.”

Bizos responded that she did not answer the question. The police chief disagreed. Earlier, Bizos said there were disagreements about the number of armed men within the crowd of protesting mine workers who gathered on the Marikana koppie on August 16.

“Do you agree with the allegation made by counsel for the police (Ishmael Semenya) that the problem was that (on August 16) there were 3 000 belligerent protesters who were armed, resisting any effort to disarm?” Bizos asked.

“We have been told that there were 3 000 people, elsewhere Semenya put it to a witness that there were 200 to 300 protesters who were armed. There were others who were peaceful, unarmed and were left (in peace). Which of the two versions did you, as commissioner, operate on?”

Phiyega said: “I would not speculate on those two versions because I have not seen alternative facts. As police, people who are armed are a concern to us. Any number of armed people, be it two or seven, concerns us. The Constitution does allow people to protest peacefully and unarmed.”

Bizos was not convinced. “Please answer the question. As the national commissioner, were your actions (at Marikana) premised on having to deal with 3 000 armed protesters or only two to three hundred? On what numbers did you base the decisions that you took?”

Phiyega said: “The important thing for me to say is, whether it’s two armed people in protest, it bothers us as police. It is immaterial whether it is 300 or 3 000. Armed protesters are not allowed by the law.”

Join the conversation! 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. 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

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 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.