‘Phiyega must be fired, nothing less’
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Johannesburg - Embattled national police commissioner Riah Phiyega must be removed from office, the Claassen board of inquiry probing her fitness for office heard on Thursday.
“It is submitted that it has been established that the national commissioner has acted in breach of the Constitution and the law. Accordingly, she is guilty of misconduct, is unfit for office and is unable to carry out her duties in accordance with the law,” Advocate Ismail Jamie SC, for the inquiry's evidence leaders told the inquiry in Centurion.
“In the circumstances, we submit that this board of inquiry should recommend that in terms of the Police Act, General Phiyega be removed from office as the national commissioner of the South African Police Service.”
Chairman of the inquiry, Judge Neels Claassen, asked Jamie whether the evidence leaders would not be proposing any lesser “relief”.
Jamie responded: “We submit that the conduct of the national commissioner is so egregious and serious, departs so far from the standard we expect from somebody in that very high position.”
“The only proper penalty would be removal from office. Those are our submissions,” Jamie said, wrapping his closing arguments to the inquiry.
Jamie questioned Phiyega's stance of opting not to give evidence at the inquiry regarding the August 2012 Marikana incidents which left more than 44 people dead.
On Thursday, Phiyega looked on intently as Jamie addressed the three-member board of inquiry.
Phiyega is facing questions over her role as national police chief in the Marikana unrest, where 34 people, mostly striking mineworkers from the Lonmin mine, were shot dead in a clash with police on August 16, 2012.
More than 70 people were wounded, and 250 were arrested at the company's platinum mining operations in Marikana, near Rustenburg. In the preceding week, 10 people, including two policemen and two Lonmin security guards, were killed in the strike-related violence.
President Jacob Zuma set up the Claassen board of inquiry into Phiyega's fitness to hold office in September, in line with a recommendations by the preceeding Farlam commission which was set up to investigate the unrest.
Phiyega's actions prior to and on the day of the August 16 incident, believed to be the biggest loss of life in a single police operation in post-apartheid South Africa, was heavily criticised by the Farlam commission of inquiry. In June last year, Zuma released the report of the Farlam Commission.
It recommended the board of inquiry into Phiyega's fitness to hold office after finding fault with the police's “tactical” plan to deal with the striking miners.
The Farlam Commission also found the police had misled it about its plans on the day of the deadly shootings.
Claassen chairs the three-member board, assisted by advocates Bernard Khuzwayo and Anusha Rawjee.
African News Agency