Pretoria - Maverick senior police officer Lt-Col Salmon Vermaak will return to the witness stand at the Farlam Commission of Inquiry when the public hearings resume next week.

On Friday, North West public order policing commander Lt-Col Joseph Merafe concluded his testimony at the inquiry's public hearings in Pretoria. Next week the inquiry will only sit on two days.

Vermaak, the police's North West air wing commander, is scheduled to be cross-examined by a legal representative of his employer, the SA Police Service.

The senior policeman previously told the inquiry that he would not take the blame for the deaths of miners at Marikana.

He broke ranks with his employer when he testified in March, alleging that the SAPS wanted him to take the blame for the August 2012 deaths of mineworkers. He cited numerous flaws within the police's intervention methods to manage a lengthy wage-related protest at Lonmin's Marikana mine.

“I have raised my concern with the manner in which this protest was handled. It could not be done in the ordinary manner like a service delivery protest,” Vermaak said at the time.

The commission is investigating the deaths of 44 people at Marikana, near Rustenburg, North West, during strike-related unrest in August 2012. On August 16, police shot dead 34 people, mostly protesting miners. At least 78 miners were wounded when police fired on a group gathered at a hill near the mine while trying to disarm and disperse them.

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

In October last year, President Jacob Zuma granted the inquiry a third extension, to April 30. Since the end of January 2013, the commission has repeatedly asked for extensions to complete its task.

Sapa