Pretoria - Senior police officers' expertise came under the spotlight at the Farlam Commission of Inquiry on Tuesday as North West police chief Lt-Gen Zukiswa Mbombo gave evidence.
She was cross-examined by Michelle Le Roux, for the SA Human Rights Commission, at the inquiry's public hearings in Pretoria.
Quoting the statement of international public order policing (POP) expert Gary White, Le Roux said: “Mr White says POP experience is undoubtedly useful but it is not sufficient unless you are properly trained in what is considered as best practices.
“Maj-Gen Charl Annandale, (North West deputy police chief) Maj-Gen William Mpembe, Brigadier Adriaan Calitz, yourself (Mbombo), and Maj-Gen (Ganasen) Naidoo were the commanders of the police operation on August 16, 2012.
“None of you, except Maj-Gen Annandale, had been trained in POP after 1994... none of you had the occupational competency,” Le Roux said.
Mbombo said her counterparts had the requisite competence in crowd management.
“General Mpembe might not have had recent training but in his work, he is always involved in such operations. Brigadier Calitz has been working with POP ever since I knew him.
“I am not saying continuous training is important but I think if a person is involved in a job, you get the necessary experience in order to be competent.”
Le Roux insisted the police commanders who were in charge at Marikana, near Rustenburg in North West, during the violent strike-related unrest at Lonmin's platinum mining operations there had not been adequately trained as stipulated in policing guidelines.
“Those senior commanders for the Marikana operation, while they may be very experienced, 1/8they 3/8 have not been trained. As the provincial commissioner it would be your responsibility to make sure they were getting properly trained and that hasn't happened,” she said.
Mbombo said “training interventions” were conducted by police head office.
“It is my responsibility to see to it that my people get the training but it is not for me to know when that training intervention is going to be held. It is also not for me to know how many of my police officers would get that training,” said Mbombo.
The commission, chaired by retired judge Ian Farlam, is probing the deaths of 44 people at Marikana.
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.
They were trying to disperse and disarm them.
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.