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No evidence tampering at Lonmin: Chabane

Cape Town - Cabinet has been assured that everything possible was done to secure the site of the Marikana tragedy, Performance Monitoring and Evaluation Minister Collins Chabane said on Friday.

This was when the Independent Police Investigating Directorate (IPID) took over the scene where 34 striking miners were killed on August 16, he told a post-Cabinet media briefing.

Forensic search a crime scene sticking Lonmin's mine workers were massacred by the police. Picture: Tiro Ramatlhatse. Credit: Tiro Ramatlhatse

Chabane was responding to a question on whether the scene had been compromised, a possibility raised by opposition parties at a committee briefing earlier this week.

“On the Marikana tragedy, it was not on the agenda, but because of current affairs... a report was presented... they (Cabinet) think the structures that have been set up are sufficient and there's no need for Cabinet to deal with that issue now.”

He re-iterated that the judicial commission of inquiry set up by the president was still busy with the matter.

“The sanitisation of the scene itself was not part of discussions (at Cabinet). We were assured at the beginning of the process, when the matter was handed over to the IPID, that everything necessary had been done to secure the site and the relevant forensic tasks that had to be performed were performed.”

Chabane said Cabinet had no reason not to trust the authorities in this regard, but added that if there were any gaps the commission would be looking into that.

Asked for his opinion earlier this week, independent forensic scientist David Klatzow could not give Sapa an answer on whether the scene was compromised or not, but said there were some gaps in the way the aftermath of the shooting had been dealt with.

“What should have happened is that the police should have had someone there who was outside the police force, while they were checking whether (the evidence) was mishandled or not.”

Klatzow agreed that the commission of inquiry probing the matter should look at this aspect as well.

“Fingers will be pointed and they (the SAPS) needed at the beginning to have an insurance policy against that finger-pointing.” - Sapa

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