‘Don’t make Phiyega the ANC’s de Kock’
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Parliament – South African national police commissioner Riah Phiyega must not take the fall alone for the massacre of 34 mineworkers in Marikana in the North West province in 2012, Economic Freedom Fighters Julius Malema said on Thursday.
Introducing a debate in the National Assembly on the Farlam Commission of Inquiry report three days before the third anniversary of the biggest loss of civilian life in a single police operation in democratic South Africa, Malema insisted Phiyega and officers involved in the shooting had been acting under order from politicians.
“There must not be another Eugene de Kock who gets sacrificed for all the political things of the apartheid regime and political principles are celebrated as peace makers,” he said in apparent reference to De Kock’s defenders who say he was a scapegoat for political higher-ups, including former president FW de Klerk – something the latter has consistently denied.
Malema said while the Farlam Commission report showed the Marikana massacre was a “premeditated mass murder of workers” by police, politicians should shoulder some of the blame.
“Marikana was a murder that was facilitated in a clear daylight and under the politicial influence and supervision of politicians, many of whom continue to enjoy the privileges of this House,” he said.
“Beaurocrats and ground forces of this murderous regime must not be the only ones that take full blame on Marikana.”
Democratic Alliance leader Mmusi Maimane argued that Zuma had failed to hold members of his executive accountable for the loss of life – accusing the President of misleading the public by stating that the Farlam Commission had absolved cabinet ministers of wrongdoing.
“The truth is that the Commission went to great lengths to emphasise that as a result of evasive and unhelpful testimony, specifically from the National Police Commissioner, Riah Phiyega, it was ‘unable … to find positively in [former police] minister [Nathi] Mthethwa’s favour’,” said Maimane.
“It remains inconceivable that the decision to implement a tactical operation on 16 August was made without Minister Mthethwa’s knowledge.”
ANC MPs defended Zuma and said the recommendations of the Farlam commission, including that an inquiry be held to determine the fitness of Phiyega to hold office, was being implemented.
“We believe that this is the correct approach to ensure due process prevails,” said ANC MP Francois Beukman.
Beukman said police minister Nathi Nhleko would brief the portfolio committee on police on August 26 on what steps had been taken to implement the commission’s recommendations.
On 16 August 2012, 34 striking workers of the Lonmin mine were shot dead by police. Ten people, including two police officers, were killed in the preceding week.