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Pretoria - Policemen attacked by armed Marikana miners they were escorting last August were not warned to stay in their Nyala vehicle, the Farlam Commission of Inquiry heard on Tuesday.
North West deputy police commissioner General William Mpembe said he had given no instruction to the officers to stay in the vehicle.
He was the overall police commander when Warrant Officers Sello Leepaku and Tsietsi Monene were hacked, stabbed, and shot to death during strike-related unrest at Lonmin's platinum mine in Marikana, North West, on August 13, 2012.
Lieutenant Shitumo Baloyi was stabbed and wounded in the attack. The previous day striking mineworkers killed two security guards by setting fire to the car they were in.
Mpembe told the commission that when he went to confront the strikers on August 13, he did not tell the police team with him about the murders of the security guards. He believed this was common knowledge.
Earlier, Mpembe said that despite being told about the situation at the mine the day before the officers were attacked, he did not believe the strikers posed a threat.
“I did not know who the destabilisers were,” said Mpembe.
On the day the policemen were attacked, Mpembe approached a group of armed mineworkers near a railway line at the mine, and asked them to hand over their weapons. The miners refused, saying they would hand them over once they arrived at the hill where other miners had gathered.
Police escorted the miners, but they turned on police after an officer fired teargas at them. Leepaku and Monene were killed. Baloyi escaped with injuries.
On Tuesday, Mpembe was being cross-examined by Louis Gumbi, for the Leepaku family and Baloyi. Gumbi earlier told the commission that his team no longer had funding. An appeal that Baloyi took to the High Court in Pretoria to attempt to have the police fund his legal team was dismissed. Gumbi told the commission his team would continue representing Baloyi and Leepaku, despite the lack of money.
Meanwhile, there was still no word on whether a potential donor had agreed to fund Dali Mpofu and his team representing miners arrested and injured during the unrest in Marikana.
Mpofu approached the high court several weeks ago to urge that it rule on whether the State should pay his team's fees. His application was dismissed. Mpofu then went to the Constitutional Court but his application was dismissed on Monday. His team indicated they would return to the high court to argue the main application.
He and his clients had provisionally withdrawn from the commission until the funding matter was resolved. Several other legal teams also withdrew from the commission in support of the miners.
The commission, sitting in Centurion, is investigating the deaths of 44 people killed during the strike-related unrest at Lonmin's platinum mine in Marikana. Police shot dead 34 striking mineworkers on August 16 last year. Ten people, including the two police officers and two security guards, were killed in the preceding week.
Farlam adjourned the proceedings slightly earlier than expected on Tuesday after Mpembe said he was not feeling well.
The inquiry continues on Thursday.