Top cop quizzed on Marikana plan

2013-07-16 14:39
(Picture: Sapa)

(Picture: Sapa)

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Pretoria - North West deputy police commissioner William Mpembe was questioned at the Farlam Commission of Inquiry on Tuesday about police plans to manage the Marikana unrest.

Evidence leader Mbuyiseli Madlanga sought answers on the progression of the six-phase plan to deal with striking Lonmin mineworkers.

Madlanga asked: "Are you telling us that the stages, as the police planned them, were not supposed to take place sequentially from one up to six? Is that what you are telling us?"

Mpembe said the police plan was updated on 13 August, three days before 34 miners were shot dead.

"I have said it earlier in my testimony, the spontaneous operation that I attended and the plan, which followed was guided in the way I am speaking now. I chaired the meeting on the 14th at which the [updated] plan was adopted."

One of the three commissioners, Pingla Hemraj, asked Mpembe about allegations that a plan to cordon off the hill where the protesters had gathered and search them was suggested at the 14 August meeting.

Stage six was the final phase of the operation and included cordoning off the hill and searching the protesters and their hostels.

In stage three, the protesters were meant to be broken up into smaller groups, encircled, and disarmed.

Implementation of stages

Commission chair, retired Judge Ian Farlam, asked Mpembe to clarify the implementation of the stages and their sequence.

Farlam asked: "Was the cordoning and searching [stage six] going to happen before stage three? I am trying to understand the sequence of the events.

"When were the first attempts made to implement that stage [six]? Was stage six to be implemented before or after stage three?"

Mpembe said the stages were not implemented in numerical order.

Farlam said he did not understand why the stage would be numbered six if it was to be implemented before earlier stages.

Police shot dead 34 striking Lonmin platinum mine workers and wounded 78 at Marikana on 16 August while trying to disperse them.

The commission is probing the events surrounding the shooting, and the deaths of 10 people in strike-related violence the previous week.

Read more on:    ian farlam  |  william mpembe  |  mahikeng  |  marikana inquiry

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