Phiyega footage shown at Marikana hearing

2013-01-22 16:00

Johannesburg - Footage of police chief Riah Phiyega thanking police after the Marikana shooting in which 34 miners died was shown to the Farlam commission of inquiry on Tuesday.

She thanked the officers for ensuring South Africans were kept safe and reminded them that they, too, were citizens of the country.

The footage was taken during a memorial service on August 20, four days after the shooting at Lonmin's North West platinum mine.

"All we did was our job, and to do it in the manner we were trained."

She said the officers were going through challenging and tough times, and assured them what had happened was responsible policing.

"Whatever happened represents the best of responsible policing. You did what you did because you were being responsible. You were making sure that you continue to live your oath."

Expert questioned on footage

SA Human Rights Commission lawyer Nokukhanya Jele cross-examined public order policing expert Brigadier Zephania Mkhwanazi on the footage.

She asked Mkhwanazi to comment on Phiyega's comments, and asked if it was not better to wait until after "you have applied your mind" to what happened before reaching a conclusion.

Mkhwanazi opted not to answer the question, and commission chair Ian Farlam agreed.

Farlam said whatever answer he gave, shy of completely agreeing with Phiyega, could put him in an embarrassing situation.

This was not really a matter Mkhwanazi could comment on, Farlam said.

170 police; 3 000 strikers

Earlier on Tuesday, questions were asked about police planning before the shooting.

Jele put it to Mkhwanazi that on the day of the shooting there were about 170 public order police and more than 3000 striking Lonmin miners on the site.

In Limpopo and in Gauteng, there were a total of 1 314 public order police who were not called in to help.

Instead, other less specialised officers were called in to help, some from much further away.

Mkhwanazi said: "Advocate, as you said, if they were available. As I indicated from the beginning there were other service delivery protest issues that were taking place [in other areas]."

Jele asked him if the decision not to call more specialised police immediately had been a fundamental flaw.

No discussion of police plan

Mkhwanazi said he was not part of the planning, and was unsure what the situation in the other provinces was at that stage.

"If there wasn't anything taking place there, this was going to be the easiest way to have members there as quickly as possible.

"Therefore, if they never called them because there was nothing happening there, really it can be some sort of a mistake."

Jele also asked why, according to minutes taken during a meeting before the shooting, there seemed to be no challenge or discussion of the police plan.

Mkhwanazi reiterated that he was not present at the meeting.

"[The plan] should be critically analysed. I was not involved. I'm not sure if it was done because I was not there."

The commission is probing the deaths of 44 people during an unprotected strike at Lonmin's Marikana mine.

Thirty-four striking mineworkers were shot dead and 78 were wounded when police opened fire while trying to disperse a group gathered on a hill near Lonmin's platinum mine.

In the preceding week, 10 people, including two police officers and two security guards, were hacked to death near the mine.

  • simphiwe.charlie.5 - 2013-01-22 16:13

    "Whatever happened represents the best of responsible policing"..boy are we in trouble if the cops think killing protestors is the resposible thing to do.

      andre.vandeventer.16 - 2013-01-22 16:53

      It's clear that the "thumbs down" brigade have never been in a situation where you had to defend your lives against an overwhelming mob of unruly thugs!

      mynard.slabbert - 2013-01-22 17:26

      Ever stood there facing 3,000 armed protesters bearing down on you matey? Like the two security guards who had their jaws slaughtered out of their faces? Reply when you can thumbs up the experience. Till then stick to your textbooks and be careful of the high speed blue light convoys protecting the ANC comrades!

      lacrimose.wolf - 2013-01-22 19:35

      Yes well 'the best of' and 'responsible' seem to mean different things to different people. The ANC considers JZ the best choice to lead the party and the country. They also consider R65m housing renovations to be 'responsible'. I know many here delight in the killings. I for one do not see anything 'best' or 'responsible' in any of it. But Ms Phiyega was also in an invidious situation - barely 5 minutes in the job with much derision and outrage both within and without SAPS at her appointment. She had to publicly stand by her people. That is what leaders do. This is a bad situation all round and *every* party is accountable. Our ability to address and solve even the smallest of problems is abysmal - as residents, employees, Unions, police, govt and just plain human beings.

      Jack - 2013-01-22 19:47

      I suppose the Sharpeville cops could have, and probably did say the same thing. Where is the world condemnation of these killings?! At the hand of the cANCer society! Who would have thought. Those freedom fighters now fight against freedom! They have discovered that very few can sit atop the pyramid. The ancestors are not pleased and the Tokoloshe cometh.

      simphiwe.charlie.5 - 2013-01-22 19:56

      It's the job of the police to manage protests, there are loads of ways to do this without resorting to using live amunition! And the more brutal they get the more public sympathy they lose.

  • mynard.slabbert - 2013-01-22 16:20

    The irony that just dont escape me is this: Before 1994 public violence and lawlessness was approved and promoted by the ANC. The very people who now rule got there by support rendered by necklass killings, torture and arson. Those miners simply followed the example they were given on how to address your grievances. Now suddenly fighting fire with fire is no longer on. Message to ANC: YOU raised that monster. Now control it.

      themba.thwala.775 - 2013-01-22 17:47

      Spot on Mynard. Ffter ascening to political power, the ANC had an obligation but it failed to go back to its followers to teach them to unlearn the destructive behaviour which followed an instruction by the ANC in the 80s to "make SA ungovernable." .

      themba.thwala.775 - 2013-01-22 19:01

      "After ascending ..."

      nathan.g.moss - 2013-01-23 08:27

      You can’t teach an old dog new tricks

  • pushocapture.maake - 2013-01-22 16:26

    If he was not there (at the meeting) did he at least hear or want to know about the so called 'police plan'?

  • Godfrey Matshira - 2013-01-22 17:28

    i never really like that Baracuda called Piyega can you utter such nonsense after 34 people were killed ? very Irresponsible

      themba.thwala.775 - 2013-01-22 17:48

      The Police either had to kill or be killed by the hooligans who believed they had become "invincible."

  • Dave - 2013-01-22 18:24

    She asked Mkhwanazi to comment on Phiyega's comments, and asked if it was not better to wait until after "you have applied your mind" to what happened before reaching a conclusion. Mkhwanazi opted not to answer the question, and commission chair Ian Farlam agreed. the anc always end up getting shamangled by their own comments.....

  • malaza.mogale1 - 2013-01-22 19:15

    When and where was Phiyega trained to shoot and kill protesters. If that's an oath to kill our own brothers and sisters then our goverment is not going anywhere. Zuma how did you end up appointing this lady

  • simphiwe.charlie.5 - 2013-01-22 19:53

    What's scary is nothing has changed,just the colour of the cops skins, Sharpville all over again.

  • jacqui.daanevanrensburg - 2013-01-23 11:42

    What did you expect?. Surely you didn't expect something intelligent from our latest star policewomen?.

  • Tamz van Aswegen - 2013-01-23 19:43

    the police were doing their job! maybe if they used live ammunition and real bullets more often, then there will be less protests and strikes! i say JOB WELL DONE!

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