Phiyega, SAPS bear brunt of Marikana report criticisms

2015-06-25 21:05


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Johannesburg - National police commissioner Riah Phiyega bore the brunt of the Marikana commission's report, while Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa and other ministers were let off scot-free.

Some of the blame was laid at the door of Lonmin and the two unions on the mine - the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) and the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM).

However, the commission exonerated Amcu president Joseph Mathunjwa, finding he had done his best to persuade the striking mineworkers to lay down their arms and leave the koppie.

This was according to the findings and recommendations read out by President Jacob Zuma in a live broadcast to the country on Thursday evening, three months after he was handed the 600-page reported.

"The counsel for injured and arrested persons alleged that Mr Cyril Ramaphosa is the cause of the Marikana massacre and that he must be held accountable for the death of 34 miners," said Zuma.

"The Commission has found that it cannot be said that Mr Ramaphosa was the cause of the massacre, and the accusations against him are groundless."

Executive played no role

It also found that then police minister Nathi Mthethwa and mineral resource minister Susan Shabangu could not be held accountable.

"The commission found that the executive played no role in the decision of the police to implement the tactical option on August 16 2012, if the strikers did not lay down their arms, which led to the deaths of the 34 persons."

The SA Police Service were the biggest losers on Thursday, with findings suggesting that it had lied to the commission about its tactical plan to disperse striking mineworkers on August 16 2012.

"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."

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.

Decision taken by police management

The commission found that it would have been impossible to disarm the striking workers and disperse them without "significant bloodshed".

The decision to implement the tactical operation was taken by police management and not the tactical unit on the ground.

In Lonmin's case, the commission found that the mining company did not use its best endeavours to resolve the disputes that arose between itself and its workers, nor did it respond appropriately to the threat and outbreak of violence.

On Amcu, the commission found that the union had not exercised effective control over its members and supporters.

"They sang provocative songs and made inflammatory remarks, which tended to aggravate an already volatile situation," said Zuma.

NUM was wrapped over the knuckles for not effectively dealing with a dispute between the union and the striking workers.

Unions failed to control members

The mineworkers union, like Amcu, had also failed to control its members, according to the commission.

"The NUM wrongly advised rock drill operators that no negotiations with Lonmin were possible until the end of the two year wage agreement," said Zuma.

"The union also did not take the initiative to persuade and enable Lonmin to speak to the workers."

The commission has recommended that the matter be referred now for further investigation in terms of the National Prosecuting Authority Act.

"The Commission recommends a full investigation, under the direction of the Director of Public Prosecutions in North West, with a view to ascertaining criminal liability on the part of all members of the SAPS who were involved in the incidents...," said Zuma.

"For the purposes of the investigation, a team should be appointed, headed by a senior state advocate, together with independent experts in the reconstruction of crime scenes, expert ballistic and forensic pathologists practitioners and Senior Investigators from IPID, and any such further experts as may be necessary."

The commission also recommended that that all the killings and assaults that took place between August 11 and 15 2012, should be referred to the Director of Public Prosecutions, for further investigation and to determine whether there was a basis for prosecution.

In addition, the commission recommended, among other things, that a panel of experts be appointed to revise the and amend all prescripts relevant to public order policing.

It was also suggested that the police review the adequacy of the training of its members who used specialised equipment such as water cannons and video equipment.

Read more on:    lonmin  |  amcu  |  num  |  ian farlam  |  riah phiyega  |  jacob zuma  |  marikana inquiry

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