Cops threatened senior officer - evidence

2013-05-06 14:44
(Werner Beukes, Sapa)

(Werner Beukes, Sapa)

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Rustenburg - Police officers threatened to kill Major General William Mpembe following the murders of two of their colleagues during the Lonmin wage-related unrest, the Farlam Commission of Inquiry heard on Monday.

They blamed Mpembe, who is North West deputy police commissioner, for the deaths of their colleagues, Lieutenant Colonel Solomon Vermaak said in a statement. The threats were made on 13 August 2012.

Police shot dead 34 striking mineworkers while trying to disperse a group on a hill near Lonmin's platinum mine in Marikana, North West on August 16 last year.

In the preceding week, 10 people, including two policemen and security guards, were killed in strike-related violence. The policemen were hacked to death.

Vermaak's voice is reportedly that which the commission earlier heard on a recorded communication, from a helicopter, ordering police at Marikana to engage with the workers at the hill.

In his statement, Vermaak told the commission, sitting at the Rustenburg Civic Centre, that police had said Mpembe would lie down and die with the officers the strikers had killed.

He had advised that Mpembe be withdrawn from the area. However, Mpembe was not withdrawn.

Under cross-examination on Monday, Major General Charl Annandale, who headed the police's tactical operations team at Marikana, said a final decision on whether to withdraw Mpembe would have been made by provincial police commissioner Lieutenant General Zukiswa Mbombo.

George Bizos, SC, for the Legal Resource Centre and the Bench Marks Foundation, asked Annandale whether the threats could have resulted in Mpembe failing to conduct his duties.

"I had no reason to believe that he had been affected," Annandale replied.

The commission, chaired by retired judge Ian Farlam, is investigating the circumstances of the 44 deaths.
Read more on:    lonmin  |  police  |  mahikeng  |  marikana inquiry  |  mining unrest

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