Not confirmed cops shot miners: Phiyega

By Drum Digital
17 April 2013

It is unconfirmed that police officers shot dead 34 striking mineworkers in Marikana on August 16 last year, the Farlam Commission heard on Wednesday.

"I cannot say those 34 people were killed by the police... and to say who was shot by whom. I am not [in] a position to say," said national police commissioner Riah Phiyega.

Phiyega, who was under cross-examination at the commission's hearings in Rustenburg, requested that she not be asked questions she could not answer.

Dumisa Ntsebeza, for the families of the deceased miners, was questioning her.

A family member of one of the dead miners broke down and cried. She was removed from the auditorium.

Ntsebeza said he was trying to establish whether there was any consistency in the way Phiyega performed her duties.

He questioned her on why she had ordered the suspension of the Daveyton police officials implicated in the death of taxi driver Mido Macia.

Macia was dragged behind a police van in February. A video clip depicting the incident went viral.

Macia was later found dead in the cells of the local police station.

"Sufficient evidence was at my disposal [to warrant a suspension]," said Phiyega.

She told the commission that none of the police officers who were present during the fatal shooting of the 34 striking mineworkers had been suspended.

"We as the SA Police Service (Saps) have not charged anyone," said Phiyega.

Relatives of the mineworkers gasped at her statement.

Commission chairman retired judge Ian Farlam gave them a stern warning to stop disrupting proceedings with audible comments, or be removed.

Phiyega told the commission that if any charge were to be laid against police, it would come as an instruction from the Independent Police Investigative Directorate.

Earlier, Ntsebeza questioned Phiyega on whether she had done any courses linked to police management and administration.

Phiyega, who has qualifications in business administration and social work, told him that her qualifications allowed her to manage any department, whether it be private or public.

"My skills are portable," she said.

The commission is investigating the incidents that led to the deaths of 44 people during a wage-related strike at Lonmin's platinum mine in Marikana in August last year.

-by Sapa

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