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Marikana widow, wounded cop want answers

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iol news pic Ian Farlam

INLSA

Honourable Judge Ian Gordon Farlam during the public hearing of the Marikana Commission of Enquiry to investigate the Marikana tragedy. File picture: Dumisani Sibeko

Pretoria - The wife of Warrant Officer Sello Leepaku, who was killed during a confrontation with Marikana miners in 2012, and critically wounded Lieutenant Shitumo Solomon Baloyi await justice, the Farlam Commission of Inquiry heard on Thursday.

Louis Gumbi, for Leepaku's family and Baloyi, cross-examined North West police air wing commander Lt-Col Salmon Vermaak at the commission's public hearings in Pretoria on Thursday.

“The client I represent in this commission, when he was killed, had 23 years of experience as a public order policing (POP) member. He did not have disciplinary action against him and he had two loyalty medals.

“My second client, Lieutenant Baloyi, had around 23 years as a POP member and was mobilised that day from Pretoria. My mandate from the family of Leepaku, especially his wife, is that we leave no stone unturned around the death of Warrant Officer Leepaku,” said Gumbi.

He said Baloyi, who sustained almost nine stab wounds during a confrontation with protesters at Lonmin's platinum mining operations at Marikana, near Rustenburg in North West, on August 13, 2012, wanted the truth.

“He says we must leave no stone unturned surrounding his injury. We are going to do that and since the beginning of this commission we have stuck to that mandate,” said Gumbi.

He said Baloyi would testify at the inquiry, but senior SA Police Service officers had attempted to thwart his testimony.

“He will also testify, as you (Vermaak) testified in this commission, how you were intimidated by senior management of the SAPS to adduce evidence in this commission.

“He will testify about how he was intimidated by senior police officers in the SAPS when he wanted to present his own independent evidence about what transpired on the 13th.”

At that stage, commission chairman, retired judge Ian Farlam, told Gumbi to file supplementary affidavits before dealing with Baloyi's intimidation claims.

Gumbi said Baloyi contended there was a lack of intelligence gathering when police officers were deployed to manage the crowd of miners armed with traditional weapons.

“The version of Lieutenant Baloyi is that information that General (William) Mpembe had regarding the group of strikers who had performed rituals with a sangoma, such information was supposed to be conveyed to officers.

“Such information was supposed to be conveyed to members in advance but on that day it was never conveyed. That information was important so that members, especially from Pretoria, (would) know the group they were going to confront.”

Vermaak said critical information should have been relayed to the intervening officers.

Mpembe is North West deputy provincial police commissioner. He was in charge of the intervention at the Marikana strike.

Leepaku was one of two policemen hacked to death when miners attacked police on August 13, 2012. Warrant Officer Tsietsi Monene was shot and also hacked to death that day. Baloyi was repeatedly stabbed.

Three days later, on August 16, police shot dead 34 people, mostly protesting miners, at the mine.

At least 78 miners were wounded when police fired on a group gathered at a hill near the mine while allegedly trying to disarm and disperse them.

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

The commission is probing the 44 deaths.

Sapa


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