Top cop quizzed over Marikana equipment

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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 - North West police chief Lt-Gen Zukiswa Mbombo did not know that her charges ordered 4000 bullets during last year's strike at Lonmin's platinum mine in Marikana, the Farlam Commission of Inquiry heard on Monday.

She was cross-examined by George Bizos, SC, representing the Legal Resources Centre, at the inquiry in Pretoria.

Bizos said Mbombo should have known critical matters of such an operation because it touched “on the life and death of people”.

“The resources that we needed at Marikana are the resources that were to be gathered and provided under your authority and your initiative. Who ordered the 4000 sharp (live) bullets?” asked Bizos.

“You are in charge of the (provincial) budget. Surely it must be a matter of concern to you that things are being ordered without your knowledge?”

Mbombo responded: “I do not dispute what the advocate is saying. I have authority over day-to-day procurement of resources. I don't know how much toilet paper is issued or how much water is drunk.

“I have people I work with at different levels who take care of those things.”

Bizos remarked that the police chief did not credit him with much intelligence. He said an operation of the Marikana strike's magnitude was far from the day-to-day running of police work.

Mbombo argued that it was not important for her subordinates to consult her over the quantity of ammunition needed for the intervention.

Bizos asked Mbombo to explain if she knew that the police requested four mortuary vehicles on August 16, before the shooting on August 16, 2012.

“You knew that a battle was going to be fought on August 16. Did you get that sense from any of your senior officers that a battle was being prepared? Mortuary vans, the bullets, those are things for battles and not for settling disputes,” said Bizos.

Mbombo said she only found out about the request for mortuary vehicles “lately”.

Exhibits previously presented at the commission by evidence leader Matthew Chaskalson SC suggests that police asked for four mortuary vans to be sent to Marikana from the Phokeng mortuary during the strike.

The evidence also shows that only one was dispatched and arrived before the shootings.

The commission, led by retired judge Ian Farlam, is probing the deaths of 44 people in Marikana. 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 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 strike-related violence.

The public hearings continue.

Sapa



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