Phiyega cross exam begins

By Drum Digital
19 March 2013

Cross examination of national police commissioner Riah Phiyega started at the Farlam Commission of Inquiry on Tuesday morning.

Phiyega, dressed in a black skirt-suit with a yellow jacket, sat with her hands folded on the table as evidence leader Mbuyiseli Madlanga asked her questions.

Madlanga asked if it was necessary to inform Minister of Police Nathi Mthethwa about the "killing of human beings that are of an unusually high scale".

Phiyega responded: "Yes."

When asked if it was an "unusually high scale of killings in a small environment," Phiyega responded: "I do agree that it was significant."

The commission heard that Phiyega kept Mthethwa informed in her "normal reporting" to him on what was happening at Marikana.

Madlanga tried to establish whether Phiyega had called Mthethwa by midnight on August 13 about the five people killed at Lonmin Platinum's Marikana mine. She kept referring him to her statement.

Phiyega said: "In my statements I mentioned dates and I have said that I continuously gave updates to the minister."

Madlanga responded: "Generally, this is a simple question... Did you inform the minister by midnight on August 13 of the five killings?"

Speaking softly, Phiyega said: "I informed the minister on what happened at Marikana since the ninth. I can't remember if I called him at 12 midnight on August 13."

Madlanga said Phiyega's evidence did not suggest any initiative made by the minister.

Thursday last week was the first time Phiyega gave evidence on the role played by the police in the events leading up to and on August 16 last year.

On that day, 34 striking mineworkers were shot dead and 78 were injured when the police opened fire near Lonmin's platinum mine in Marikana. Ten people, including two police officers and two security guards, were killed near the mine in the preceding week.

-by Sapa

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