Phiyega to respond to Marikana findings next month

Johannesburg - National police commissioner Riah Phiyega has received a letter from President Jacob Zuma informing her of the outcomes of the Marikana Commission of Inquiry, the SA Police Service said on Thursday.

"The President has invited General Phiyega to respond no later than July 31, 2015. [She] will comply with the President's directive," police spokesperson Brigadier Vishnu Naidoo said in a statement.

Zuma released the commission's 600-page findings on Thursday night, in which Phiyega bore the brunt of the blame.

“The commission has also recommended that there must be an inquiry into the fitness to hold office of the national police commissioner as well as the North West provincial commissioner,” Zuma read from a summary of the commission’s report.

The commission, which was headed by retired judge Ian Farlam, had been tasked to investigate the deaths of 44 people killed during strike-related unrest at Lonmin's platinum mine in Marikana, Rustenburg in August 2012.

During an attempt to disperse the strikers, police shot and killed 34 striking mineworkers on August 16 2012 while 10 people, including two police officers, were killed in the preceding week.

Police had ‘lied’

While police said the miners had charged at them, resulting in them opening fire, the commission's findings suggested that the police service had lied to the commission about its tactical plan to disperse the mineworkers.

"The police leadership did not initially disclose to the commission, the fact that the original plan was not capable of being implemented on the first date and that it had been abandoned," said Zuma.

"In addition, police leadership did not inform the commission that the decision to go ahead with the tactical option, if the strikers did not voluntarily lay down their arms and disperse, was taken at the national management forum meeting on August 15.

"Instead, they informed the commission that this decision was taken on the 16th of August, and only after the situation had escalated."

Initial plan abandoned

An initial plan, which was meant to be implemented in the early morning of August 16 was abandoned by police for the tactical operation, which led to the shooting.

On Friday morning, the police service said it would not make any further comment on the commission's findings.

"Out of respect for the processes outlined by the President, Saps management has taken a decision that no public pronouncements about the report, its findings and recommendations will be made," Naidoo said.

The police said the incidents that unfolded in Marikana had brought a lot of pain to the families, friends and colleagues of the deceased as well as the police and its leadership.

"It has been a difficult journey and regrettably, that journey continues," said Naidoo.

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