Cops differ on Marikana evidence

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IOL judge ian farlam INLSA Judge Ian Farlam. File photo: Oupa Mokoena

Pretoria - North West police commissioner Lt-Gen Zukiswa Mbombo on Thursday queried evidence submitted at the Farlam Commission of Inquiry by her deputy Maj-Gen William Mpembe.

She was being cross-examined by evidence leaders' head Geoff Budlender, SC, at the commission's public hearings in Pretoria.

Budlender asked Mbombo to explain what she did after receiving a letter from North West police air wing commander Lt-Col Salmon Vermaak.

In the letter, Vermaak claimed there were several flaws in the police's handling of the strike at Lonmin's mine at Marikana, near Rustenburg.

The letter was sent to Mbombo in December 2012.

“He made serious allegations about the conduct of the police. It is now nearly 14 months later and the SA Police Service has still not investigated the correctness of this letter,” said Budlender.

Mbombo said the letter was forwarded to Mpembe and Brigadier Adriaan Calitz, who previously testified at the inquiry.

“Some of the things mentioned in the letter are being looked into by our head office together with other allegations made against the public order police unit,” she said.

Budlender said the police still had not determined whether Vermaak's allegations were true. Mbombo said “the allegations which have substance” were being probed by the police head office.

“Some of the things that he mentioned are being corrected as time goes on,” she said.

Budlender then brought up Mpembe's testimony to the commission about Vermaak's letter. Mpembe told the commission he had never seen the letter.

Budlender said: “He said you never showed him the letter and you are saying you gave him the letter. Only one of you can be telling the truth.”

Mbombo said Mpembe might have forgotten that he received the letter.

“If I receive letters of this nature, which fall under the deputy's work, I forward it to the deputy. I also forward instructions as to what should be done,” she said.

“As it is, General Mpembe may have forgotten. He received it and worked in accordance with what I had said.”

Commission chairman retired judge Ian Farlam urged Mbombo to find the letter received by Mpembe and bring it to the commission.

On August 16, 2012, 34 people, mostly striking miners, were shot dead and 78 people were wounded when the police fired on a group gathered at a hill near Lonmin's platinum mining operations in Marikana, while trying to disperse and disarm them.

In the preceding week, 10 people, including two policemen and two security guards, were killed in strike-related violence.

Sapa



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