Phiyega sticks to her guns

2013-03-19 22:15

Rustenburg - National Police Chief Riah Phiyega stuck to her stance on Tuesday that police acted in self-defence when they shoot dead 34 striking Lonmin mineworkers on a hill near the mine in Marikana last year.

"I stand by my statement," Phiyega told the Farlam Commission of Inquiry into the events surrounding the shooting in North West on 16 August.

Cross examining her in Rustenburg, evidence leader Mbuyiseli Madlanga read a statement into the record by police officer Hendrich Wouter Myburgh about the shooting.

Myburgh said after most of the shooting had stopped he found three wounded people on the ground on the hill and continued to search for "other suspects".

"I suddenly heard a gunshot behind me. As I turned, I saw a NIU [national intervention unit] constable who is unknown to me putting his side firearm in his leg holster while he was standing next to the injured," Myburgh said in the statement.

"I asked him [the NIU] constable what is going on. He replied by saying: 'They deserve to die' and he moved away."

The commission heard that the constable could not be identified or named.

When Madlanga asked Phiyega whether, if Myburgh's evidence was indeed true, she would continue holding the view that the officers fired shots in self-defence? She responded: "I'm consistent in my view that, given the sensitivity of the issue... I would be very, very cautious to answer such a question... It is difficult to say on this or that hypothesis."

The commission's chairperson, retired judge Ian Farlam, warned Phiyega that her "deliberate attempt to not answer a question" led to inferences being drawn.

Phiyega said she and her commanders wanted to understand what had happened, but Myburgh could not give them more details to find or identify the person.

The day after the shooting, Phiyega was quoted as saying that police officers had had no choice but to "employ force to protect themselves" from the group of miners.

She said: "The militant group stormed towards the police firing shots and wielding dangerous weapons, and the police retreated and were forced to utilise maximum force to defend themselves.

"Police retreated systematically and were forced to utilise maximum force to defend themselves."

Phiyega stands by her comments

On Tuesday, Madlanga asked her if she stood by her comments.

Phiyega said: "To the best of my knowledge, with the facts I was given at the time, I stand by my statement."

When Madlanga asked if it was a fact that the "militant group stormed the police", Ishmael Semenya, for the police, objected, and said Phiyega was not an eye-witness.

Phiyega gave evidence for the first time on Thursday about the role played by the police in the events leading up to and on 16 August.

On that day, 34 striking mineworkers were shot dead and 78 were wounded when the police opened fire on them.

Ten people, including two police officers and two security guards, were killed near the mine in the preceding week.

Phiyega has yet to touch on the question of who instructed the police to use live ammunition.

She defended Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa on Tuesday when Madlanga said her evidence did not suggest that he made any initiatives.

Phiyega said: "I have said he has given us leadership, he has given us political support that enabled us to do our work."

On Wednesday, the commission is expected to hold an in-loco inspection in the vicinity of the K3 shaft at Lonmin Platinum's mine in Marikana.

  • lacrimosewolf - 2013-03-19 22:22

    Her guns, yes, her memory seems less reliable. It seems to me Phiyega is protecting her Minister and totally incapable of handling this inquiry without her advisor giving her the answers and constantly referring to Statement 1 and Statement 2 instead of answering direct questions. Anyone with that gargantuan a memory lapse probably needs to be under medical care....

      Gerhardus Windpomp - 2013-03-19 22:37

      Alzheimer's. Handy when you need it.

      Sally Lewitt - 2013-03-20 00:02

      Convenient Amnesia more like it.. ouch! - 2013-03-20 01:25

      It's call selective memory loss - All Cadre's suffer from it.

      nkosikhonorman.ludidi - 2013-03-20 06:50

      everyone who watch news have seen the video of striking miners approaching police while police formed a basic line........the miners came charging to the police with spears pangas and shooting at the police....(remember that 2 police officers were killed on sunday by miners and their firearms were stolen from them including an R5 rifle) so the police has no choice but to shoot at the miners as the tear gas,stunt grenates,water canon and rubber bullets were used but were not effective....... police were defending themselves from being killed

      Tsepo Mdlalose - 2013-03-20 14:27

      I'm just saying.. If you can't disperse that amount of people with rubber rounds you're not suppose to be in the police

  • Godfrey Welman - 2013-03-19 22:37

    Shame, I saw the live crossing on ENCA and she apeared clueless on what happened. I wonder if she actually wrote the statement as she never answered without referring to it. She is setting the NW Commissionar up for the fall.

  • James Ilukena - 2013-03-19 23:08

    So can we say that the apartheid government was also right by killing those who asked for justice at that time madam Piyega. freedom goes beyond what those people were killed for ask her do she really understand how it feels when the person you love is dead here we are talking about people why didn't they arrest those who killed only did the use the law of Moses eye to eye.

      Koo Doyle - 2013-03-20 07:20

      What would you do if a bunch of angry miners were charging at you armed with pangas and suchlike? Offer them a cup of tea? They had already brutally murdered several people. Of course their is sympathy with the families, but for goodness sake?

      bob.mcmillen.564 - 2013-03-20 10:11

      Koo, of course you are 100% correct, the fact these miners had already brutally murdered innocent people and then had the absolute stupidity to charge armed police and expect what exactly, the police to run away ?, I know I would expect a bullet between the eyes if I charged, armed with a Panga or knife, armed police.

  • Mammudi Makgaleng - 2013-03-19 23:13

    Spare yourself embarrassment and resign.

      jacques.vandermerwe.965 - 2013-03-20 07:08

      She might just end up being the shortest serving police commissioner....not sure which one is the greater embarrassment.

      Juanne-pierre De Abreu - 2013-03-20 08:14

      But she was appointed by Zuma, she must be good.

  • Lourens Setlako - 2013-03-20 04:10

    this commission is a weiste of tax payers money the general did not shot anyone why can't the commission ask ppl who were shoting on the day in question 2 get better information than to ask someone who was not even there @ th time of the shoting

  • Simphiwe Charlie - 2013-03-20 06:48

    How are we supposed to hold any respect for our police force when their chief is a blatant lier.

      Juanne-pierre De Abreu - 2013-03-20 08:15

      Well, if you look at the last two chiefs I'm sure the disillusionment of the good of the police died way back then.

      Christo Groenewald - 2013-03-20 09:06

      Where did she lie? She made a statement and that is it. Changing it would be a lie!

      Simphiwe Charlie - 2013-03-20 11:34

      Christo her statement is a lie.

  • nkosikhonorman.ludidi - 2013-03-20 06:55

    who doesnt know that police acted in self defence there? even the family members of the deseased know that......just waisting tax payers money instead of using it to compensate the families of the dead miners

      arthur.salvado - 2013-03-20 07:30

      Police could have avoided the situation but agreed. The enquiry is a waste of money and would rather be used to compensate families.

      bob.mcmillen.564 - 2013-03-20 10:15

      Arthur, how exactly could the police have avoided the situation, by running away ?, well that would send a strong statement out to murderers and law breakers in general, use your brains, the miners could have avoided the situation very easily not the police.

  • arthur.salvado - 2013-03-20 07:27

    I dont think Phiyega is qualified to handle her job and the enquiry. Pity, I had high hopes. I believe that with proper training the charging of the police (scary) could have been avoided. When the miners charged the police which was a scary site to see, the police through lack of training I believe had no option but to protect themselves . The point is that with proper training, the charging could have been avoided. Phiyega, please step down since its only a matter of time. I feel sorry for you. You should never have accepted the position.

      Andre Jacobs - 2013-03-20 08:54

      Agree but buddie zuma wanted somebody that will listen to him and a person that won't arrest him for corruption charges that was swept under a convenient carpet. She didn't see that but only the fat cheque. She won't go away, she is sticking like boerewors to a braai grille and that fat cheque, that you and I are paying.

      Christo Groenewald - 2013-03-20 09:08

      Proper training of the police on the ground. She has got managment skills and is well qualified. No need for her to handle a gun or give commands at a scene. She is MANAGMENT.

      nkosikhonorman.ludidi - 2013-03-20 10:07

      come to me waving your knife while am carrying a fully loaded gun....I will shoot the whole 15 rounds in your body I promise

  • Wayne Chibaya - 2013-03-20 07:37

    madam commissioner big up, we are tied of citizens who disrespect Police. protest with a panga police will not run but use maximum force - they shoot - i guess u knw that by now. some of us in Zim we never challenge 1 police officer carrying a button stick - high time locals should respect SAPS.

      Banele Xaji - 2013-03-20 07:53

      Oh shut up, go back to Zim, why you here. Human being died that day, the was a better way to handle this hence there is an enquiry. Nxa!!!

      nkosikhonorman.ludidi - 2013-03-20 10:02

      @Banele which better way? stunt grenates,rubber bullets,smokes,teargas and water canons failed to disperse the armed striking miners.. so tell us what is this better way you are talking about? or you mean police should have surrendered to the miners and be killed without shooting?

      Banele Xaji - 2013-03-20 11:49

      you missing the point, applying maximum force should always be the last resort! did you see any video where they used water cannons, nope. and its all good and well to say the miners deserved it, wait till police brutality happens to you or someone close to you. We cannot afford to be indifferent with this, wait till they come for you. Police generally feel they have the right to kill. No one is above the law, and if you saw the video, one of the officers said I will kill you, after having shot many people dead.

      nkosikhonorman.ludidi - 2013-03-20 14:40

      i was.there in person i mean physically

  • Ian Robert Reid - 2013-03-20 07:41

    At this time i still support the law inforcement?? do wat u have 2do?? i will not hesitate?? kill or b killed??

      John Smith - 2013-03-20 21:49

      You have to be a thick thug cop.

  • Tshepo Maganedisa - 2013-03-20 08:34

    Like i have always maintained this woman is not fit to be heading the SAPS ,she is insinsitive, liar and who knows what she did with Zuma to get this post.We have other thousand capable woman who can do a better job than her and the sooner she is relieved of her duties the better

      Isaac Komape - 2013-03-20 12:05

      This is not the right criteria to disqualify her, this commission just wantt to prove something i dont know.Nobody is talking about the ten people killed by the miners.How unfair....

  • Andre Jacobs - 2013-03-20 08:39

    She wasn't there so she is judging as we all are by what we hear and see on the news. Why are they asking her what happened? And she is still an uppie in the force-doing her training. What a circus.

  • Andre Jacobs - 2013-03-20 08:46

    If you hang a stethoscope around some body's neck it doesn't make that person a doctor. If you pin a few emblems on some body's shoulders it doesn't make that person a national police chief. They may say she is one but she doesn't act like one. What a mess.

      Alex Munyai - 2013-03-20 16:42

      I agree Andre,she's totally clueless n hopeless...Riya Phiyega must crawl back to the very hole from whence she came.period.

  • Ndangah-Brumilda Shedni Mmberegeni - 2013-03-20 08:53

    Police act on ground of justification*self defence* people speak about the video dat the media want to show wrong side of police and what about wrong side of those mines workers, wen they kill the gurds and first police official it was very gud for media, and now they got shot back , media and politics wana blame the police, in the line of duty, I salute you, national commisioner, I know people and politics want to use police as a place to digg money, gold diggers

  • Ricky Singh - 2013-03-20 10:00

    What a shameful chapter(Marikana) in the history of our new democracy.I think also, Madiba, would bow his head in shame, as this was never the history he fought for, in his many years of struggle.We should all collectively do this as nothing of substance is going to right the wrongs of that fateful day.

  • Isaac Komape - 2013-03-20 12:00

    So the concern is on the 35 miners who were attacking the police, what about the ten people who died a week before,including two security and two police.Who will be investigated forthat crime?

      John Smith - 2013-03-20 21:46

      Are you aware that was a different crime scene. Intelligence requires you to differentiate and separate the individual events.

  • Dudu Netshiavha - 2013-03-20 12:17

    I'm still failing to understand this, why did they carry pangas and spears if they were not there to fight just to toyi toyi.

  • patsy.smith.125 - 2013-03-20 14:37

    I don't know many people who CAN admit to being in the wrong. Certainly haven't heard of any in government. I think the big questions are 'Was Phiyega present at Marikana?' If she was, whereabouts was she? If she wasn't there, WTH was she? And perhaps the most important question of all - 'WHAT, if anything, does she know about policing?'

  • John Smith - 2013-03-20 21:41

    If she doesn't the she is an accessory to murder and liable for all damages caused by her employee thick thugs.

  • mandla.yende.75 - 2013-03-21 09:31

    Unless of course every time a police in the line of duty must phone Riya Piyega for advice before executing a decision. It is only in South Africa that learned advocates must drag us into this kind of fiasco and Judge Farlam presides on this comedy of errors. Phiyega is a POLITICAL HEAD of the SAPS and I expected the advocates to ask questions pertinent to her role and responsibilities as political head. She can never on a million years be involved in police tactical and strategy decisions on the ground. Those lawyers are failing the victims' families by pursuing this kind of vicarious and esoteric liability for the shooting.

  • mandla.yende.75 - 2013-03-21 09:40

    To prove this case all you have to do is prove that the police on the ground and their command structure there were responsible. Your victims will get compensation. But if you want to discredit the government and ANC, you must frag in Cyril Ramsphosa and Riya Phiyega and invert the laws of cause and effect. Its an expensive strategy that may well see the police walk free from this. Mandela may have turned his sabotage by reading a political speech in the dock, but the copy cats like Dali Mpofu have clearly lost the plot here. This is not a political trial its an inquiry into the murder of 44 people. Much as we want answers from the police we also want answers from the strikers why they killed 10 people in cold blood!

  • ANASKA - 2013-03-23 12:21

    Her blatant lies is merely to protect her "MURDER SQUAD"

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