Get IOL's cool new iPad app...
Rustenburg - Vital questions remained unanswered on Thursday about the Marikana shooting, after the first day of national police chief Riah Phiyega's testimony on the events.
Her statement before the Farlam commission of inquiry in Rustenburg did not touch on the question of who instructed police to use live ammunition.
Phiyega's focus was on events that led up to the August 16, 2012, shooting at the Lonmin platinum mine in Marikana, North West.
“On August 14, I was not in Marikana. I was in Parliament... I continued to receive reports and updates (on the situation at Marikana),” Phiyega said as Ishmael Semenya, for the police, led her in giving evidence.
“On that day the update I received was that another dead body was found, of a person that was killed who was alleged to be a supervisor at the mine, who had a skull on his chest... The skull of a cattle.”
The commission heard that on August 15, Phiyega was informed by the North West police commissioner of a “possibility of a peaceful resolution being reached”.
“She informed me that she had been told that Mr (Joseph) Mathunjwa of Amcu (the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union) had promised that the protesters would lay down their weapons at the koppie at nine (am) on the morning of the 16th of August and thereafter leave the koppie,” Phiyega read from her statement.
She said the provincial commissioner informed her the police would have to disperse the crowd if they did not leave the koppie.
Phiyega said the provincial police commissioner called her on the afternoon of August 16 to inform her of “the decision to implement a dispersal operation”.
“Later that day... she informed me about the tragedy that had just occurred. That time was around 3, 4 or 5pm,” she said.
“She said that the protesters had charged at the police line with an assortment of dangerous weapons. She also relayed that the police had also been fired at and that the police had shot and killed a number of protesters, which later turned out as 34... I was also informed that there were other people who were injured. She stated that 259 protesters had also been arrested.”
She said she called the minister of police and advised him she would attend to the matter personally.
The commission heard Phiyega went to Marikana on the day of the shooting.
She told the commission that President Jacob Zuma was in Mozambique at a SADC conference at the time. She informed him about the shooting through the minister of international relations and co-operation, who was attending the conference.
The commission heard Phiyega compiled a report to send to Zuma in the early hours of August 17.
Phiyega said on August 17 she returned to Marikana and attended a police parade arranged for prayer and counselling.
“At the time, I met members that were shaken and members that were traumatised,” she said.
Zuma went to Marikana that evening and attended a press conference, she said. - Sapa