Johannesburg – The Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (Popcru) on Monday said it stood by police officers facing charges relating to the violence in Marikana in the North West that claimed the lives of 44 people in 2012.

"We want to categorically state that we stand by those accused police officials and if the South African Police Service (SAPS) does not represent them, we will. The principle of innocent until proven guilty should respectively be observed in this matter," the union said on Monday.

Providing an update on steps taken by government departments to implement the Farlam Commission of Inquiry's recommendations, the Presidency said on Sunday that a number of senior police officers had been charged or were being investigated for various offences following the conclusion of the Farlam investigation.

Warning statements had been obtained from senior members of the SAPS who were involved in the operation at Marikana during the wildcat strike, the Presidency said in a statement. 

Among others, a criminal case was opened against a major-general for allegedly defeating the ends of justice. He was accused of having failed to exercise command and control at "scene two" of the shooting and belatedly submitted his own firearm for investigation by the ballistic experts, and that the paramedics under his protection were diverted to "scene two" instead of giving medical attention at "scene one".

A case was also opened against a brigadier for allegedly defeating the ends of justice by failing to secure recordings of an extraordinary meeting of SAPS management.

An attempted murder case had been opened for some police officers in respect of the strikiing miners who were hospitalised with gunshot wounds on August 13, 2012, as per the directive from the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), the statement said.

Investigations found a major-general who was responsible for overall command of the SAPS operation at Marikana to have been remiss in his conduct when dealing with the incident of August 13, 2012, which led to the deaths of two police officers and three strikers.

He also allegedly ignored the advice of experienced public order police officers on dealing with the crowd control situation and contravened the SAPS standing order number 262 relating to crowd control.

"The officer faces four counts of murder for the deaths of two police officers and two of the strikers and six counts of attempted murder in respect of the five injured miners and one police officer.

"He also faces charges of defeating and/or obstructing the ends of justice, as well as contravention of section 6 (2) of the Commissions Act by falsely testifying at the Farlam Commission and denying his role in ordering the police to fire teargas at the strikers," the Presidency said.

Popcru said it hoped the outcome of the work of the Police Ministerial Transformation Task Team's review of police operational standards would assist officers in their future operations.

"We remain hopeful that the Police Ministerial Transformation Task Team's review of policies and operational standards that disadvantage police officers' working environment, living conditions and career progression will be adequately addressed in improving the overall functionality of this important component, and that mining companies across the board increase their efforts in improving the needs of their employees. We currently have a situation where almost all mining profits are transferred abroad while worker conditions are not prioritised."

African News Agency