Police want to submit new evidence to Marikana commission

2014-04-30 15:04

The South African Police Service (SAPS) wants new evidence to be admitted to the Marikana commission in what Advocate George Bizos has described as a bid to discredit one of the police’s own men.

Bizos told the commission today that this new evidence was a recording of a meeting between evidence leaders and Lieutenant Colonel Salmon Vermaak to discuss, among other things, the statement Vermaak made on “12 December 2012 which was not consistent with the official police version”.

Bizos said that when the evidence leaders wanted to interview Vermaak, he was advised that he was entitled to bring his attorney, who at the time was still Frikkie Pretorius from the police.

According to Bizos, Vermaak’s conversation with the evidence leaders was recorded without his permission and he was not informed that the recording would be made available to the commission or used against him.

“I am sure that the reason for this is to pick up some contradiction which may assist the police in one of the versions that they are now putting up. It is not fair to the witness and it is not in the interest of the administration of justice,” said Bizos.

The commission’s chairperson, retired Judge Ian Farlam, said that the evidence had been handed over to the commissioners on Monday, but the evidence leaders had received it earlier than that.

Farlam asked that all parties return next week when the commission resumes to argue whether the recording should be used to cross examine the witness.

Meanwhile, the police’s Advocate Ishmael Semenya was asked to continue cross-examining Vermaak without referring to the new recording – for now.

Semenya questioned Vermaak on his submissions to the police joint operational coordinating committee meetings relating to a plan that led to the death of 34 miners on August 16 2012.

Vermaak said that his plan should have been used as the first stage of the plan to disperse the miners on the koppie. He said the cordon and search of the hostels should have been conducted first before going for the miners on the koppie.

“The plan you say would have worked [of a cordon and search] would have proven unsuccessful. You had no intelligence that there were weapons in the hostels. You didn’t even know that the miners were now sleeping on koppie three,” said Semenya.

Vermaak said that he added his views but his plans were not even used as a plan B if anything went wrong.

“I warned them from Sunday that these people [the miners] will fight until they die. I warned the senior members and I made a proposal but Colonel Duncan Scott said he had made a plan and it was already in place. They did not want to listen to me so this [the death of 34 miners] cannot be put on me,” said Vermaak.

Cross-examination of Vermaak will continue when the commission resumes on May 8, after the general elections. The commission has been extended until July 31. Farlam said that this was the last extension and there will be no more requests for additional time.

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