Phiyega to testify on Marikana

2013-03-12 22:34
Riah Phiyega (Deaan Vivier, Beeld)

Riah Phiyega (Deaan Vivier, Beeld)

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Rustenburg - Police commissioner Riah Phiyega is scheduled to testify on Wednesday before the Farlam Commission of Inquiry into last year's Marikana shooting.

Commission spokesman Tshepo Mahlangu confirmed on Tuesday that Phiyega would be called by lawyers representing the police.

"She will be called to give evidence on the role played by the SA Police Service on the events that are the subject of the Marikana Commission of Inquiry," he said in a statement.

Phiyega was criticised in August after she said police officers should not be sorry about the shooting, near Lonmin's platinum mine in Marikana, which left 34 protesting miners dead.

"Safety of the public is not negotiable. Don't be sorry about what happened," Phiyega was quoted as saying by the Sowetan newspaper on 20 August.

Phiyega was speaking at Warrant Officer Sello Ronnie Lepaku's funeral. He was killed in August, allegedly by protesting Lonmin miners.

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

On 16 August, 34 striking mineworkers were shot dead and 78 injured when the police opened fire while trying to disperse a group gathered on a hill near the mine.

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

On Tuesday, the commission heard evidence from miner Mzoxolo Magidiwana who was shot and wounded on August 16. Evidence leader, advocate Thantaswa Lupuwana questioned Magidiwana on why he and other miners carried dangerous weapons on the day.

Speaking through an interpreter, Magidiwana said it was normal for a man to carry a stick when he left the house, saying he could not speak for the other people at the strike. He told the commission he thought the police were there to keep an eye on the strikers.

Lupuwana wanted clarity on whether the miners could have used an alternative route on the day to get away from the police.

Finger pointed at Lonmin

Earlier on Tuesday, the commission heard that Lonmin could have prevented the shooting, had it acted sooner.

"If your child is hungry and wants food, you take cognisance that the child is hungry. You don't put the dogs on the child for being hungry," Magidiwana said.

He told the commission that if Lonmin had told strikers how much it could afford to pay them, the shooting could have been avoided.

Commission chairperson, retired judge Ian Farlam, asked for clarity on what Magidiwana meant when he said the employer should have acted sooner.

He replied that action should have been taken before workers decided to go to the hill near the mine on 11 August.

Magidiwana was being cross-examined by Terry Motau SC, for Lonmin.

Teboho Mosikili, for the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union, wanted clarity on the song "Kill NUM" when he cross-examined the miner.

The commission heard all miners sang it, regardless of which union they belonged to.

"I want to explain this song... it didn't mean the literal killing, it meant how can we bring it to an end," Magidiwana explained to Farlam when asked if it was a cultural song.

Karel Tip SC, for the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), concluded his cross-examination on Tuesday morning.

Tip wanted to establish how often Magidiwana had carried two weapons during the wildcat strike.

The miner said he only carried two weapons on 16 August. He said it was mainly to strike the weapons against one another while singing.

Before the commission adjourned on Tuesday advocate Dali Mpofu, for the injured and arrested miners, indicated his re-examination of Magidiwana would end at lunch on Wednesday.

Read more on:    police  |  amcu  |  ian farlam  |  riah phiyega  |  mahikeng  |  marikana inquiry  |  mining unrest

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