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Pretoria - Remarks about Economic Freedom Fighters leader Julius Malema prompted some pointed questions to North West police chief Lt-Gen Zukiswa Mbombo at the Farlam Commission of Inquiry on Thursday.
She was quizzed by retired judge Ian Farlam over a transcript of a meeting between her and Lonmin mine executives two days before the Marikana shooting. Among them were Barnard Mokwena and Jomo Kwadi.
Mbombo was recorded as saying: “At Impala, Malema came with our premier and spoke to those people, and ourselves, as the police, we managed to manage the situation after Malema came,” referring to North West premier Thandi Modise.
She added: “Our discussion with the national commissioner (Riah Phiyega) was around this thing now happening, to say again, Malema come and defuse this thing. It becomes as if Malema has taken charge of the mining, the mine.”
Mbombo hinted at Malema's campaign to nationalise South Africa's mines. She said the Marikana stand-off had to be defused by “moving in to kill it”.
Farlam asked Mbombo: “I understand you were saying to your commanders they had to act very quickly before Mr Malema could come.”
Farlam said he wanted to know if a visit by Malema, and him giving a speech like he had done at Impala Platinum's mine, would aggravate matters.
Mbombo said there was nothing wrong with Malema's speech delivered previously at the Impala mine.
“What I foresaw would create a problem was that when we allow people whose intentions we did not know to come in and talk to the people, some of them could say things that could aggravate the situation,” she said.
Farlam said Malema could obviously not be included in this group of people, judging from his previous conduct in defusing the situation at Impala's mine.
“Why did you say the possibility of Mr Malema coming and once again defusing the situation in the manner he had done at Impala introduced 'a serious political connotation' such that you told your commanders to 'kill' this thing?”
Mbombo said she was not against Malema's visit. But police were always concerned when people wanted to address protesters in such volatile situations.
“The truth is that it is something that we always want to know, whether that person is bringing any help and what their intention is.”
Earlier, Mbombo told families attending the hearing: “To all the people who lost their loved ones, to those who were injured, I want to say the police have a responsibility to protect.
“Killing people is not an intention of the police. My plea to all the people of this country is do not turn your backs against police.”
The commission is probing the deaths of 44 people at Lonmin's platinum mining operations in Marikana, near Rustenburg.
On August 16, 2012, 34 people, mostly striking miners, were shot dead and 78 people were wounded when police fired on a group gathered at a hill near the mine.
In the preceding week, 10 people, including two policemen and two security guards, were killed in the strike-related violence.
President Jacob Zuma established the inquiry shortly after the shootings.
The hearings continue.