'Blood on her hands!' – Marikana support group at Phiyega inquiry

2016-05-04 07:16
Suspended National Police Commissioner Riah Phiyega with her defence team Advocates William Mukhari SC and Sello Mahlape. (Mpho Raborife, News24)

Suspended National Police Commissioner Riah Phiyega with her defence team Advocates William Mukhari SC and Sello Mahlape. (Mpho Raborife, News24)

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Centurion – A small group from the Marikana Support Campaign, who sat through the first day of a board of inquiry into suspended national police commissioner General Riah Phiyega's fitness to hold office, made their presence felt on Tuesday.

During breaks and short intervals, the group, wearing T-shirts from a political movement called Operation Khanyisa, sang songs including 'Phiyega must resign', 'What happened to our brothers in Marikana?', 'We will show Phiyega our backsides' as well as chanting,  "Blood on her hands!" while she sat less than three metres from them, appearing unfazed.

The second day of the inquiry is expected to get underway with two mortuary employees giving evidence, followed by two members of the SAPS.

Simon Laka and Philani Tladinyane are believed to have worked at the morgue where the bodies of those killed during the Marikana unrest were placed following the fatal shootings in August 2012.

They would be the first witnesses to be called by the board of inquiry's evidence leaders, led by Advocate Ismail Jamie, SC.


The board of inquiry, chaired by Judge Neels Claassen, has been tasked with investigating allegations of misconduct by Phiyega during the Marikana massacre and her fitness to hold office following the findings of the Farlam Commission of Inquiry.

The Farlam Commission of Inquiry was established by President Jacob Zuma and tasked with investigating the deaths of 44 people killed during the strike-related unrest at Lonmin's platinum mine in Marikana, Rustenburg in August 2012.

Police shot dead 34 striking miners on August 16, apparently while trying to disperse them and end the strike. A further 10 people died before and after the massacre.

Zuma received the commission's final report on March 31 last year and released it to the public on June 25. The report recommended Zuma inquire into Phiyega's fitness to hold office.

He suspended Phiyega four months later, in October, over 14 allegations of misconduct.

Allegations against Phiyega

The allegations include:

- Whether Phiyega, together with other leaders in the SA Police Service (SAPS) or alone, misled the Farlam Commission into the Marikana shootings regarding the decision to implement the 'tactical option' taken the day before the fatal incident;

- The decision taken to implement the 'tactical option' ought to have reasonably foreseen the tragic and catastrophic consequences which ensued;

- The remarks made by Phiyega at the SAPS parade on August 17 2012 could have been understood as an unqualified endorsement of the police action therefore undermining, frustrating or otherwise impeding the work of the commission;

- The report prepared by Phiyega for Zuma on August 16 2012 and the media statement the following day was deliberately amended to conceal the fact that there were two shooting incidents; misleading the public that all the deaths occurred at one scene because the SAPS were defending themselves; and

- Whether Phiyega's testimony at the Farlam Commission was in keeping with her office and the discharge of her duties.

On Tuesday, the first day of the inquiry, Phiyega's defence team, led by William Mokhari SC, opposed the evidence leaders' submission that the board allow them to introduce new evidence to the hearings by calling witnesses who may not have given evidence during the Farlam Commission, but who could shed light on certain matters.

Mokhari was also against the evidence leaders' submission that they be allowed to ask Phiyega questions relating to any of the statements she had made after the commission had concluded.

He said the evidence leaders were well aware of the scope of the terms of reference put before them and accused them of attempting to "augment or bolster" a case which was never put before the Farlam Commission.

"The terms of reference set out the scope for the inquiry [make it clear] that this is not a general inquiry [into her fitness to hold office], but it is confined to the conduct of the national commissioner in relation to what happened at Marikana and in relation to the Farlam Commission," he insisted.

Widen scope 

Jamie, however, responded by saying Phiyega's conduct and fitness to hold office could not only be determined solely by the Farlam Commission evidence.

He suggested the scope be widened to include her conduct and statements about what happened in Marikana even after the commission had concluded its work, as this would help the inquiry get a better understanding of Phiyega's position on the matter.

In the evidence team's opinion, this was an important point because as the national police commissioner, Phiyega held a position which required her to be held to higher standards than the average public servant and she was also expected to act in line with the Constitution.

After a lunch adjournment, Judge Claassen granted the evidence leaders the right to call any witnesses they felt were relevant to the case on condition that the matters raised only be directly linked to the Farlam Commission.

He also permitted the evidence leaders to question Phiyega about her conduct and statements she had made outside of the commission itself, provided they were also linked to the commission.

Read more on:    riah phiyega  |  pretoria  |  marikana inquiry  |  marikana

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