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S African police head testifies at enquiry

South African police commissioner expected to provide evidence on the role of police at Marikana massacre last year.
Last Modified: 14 Mar 2013 10:25
Thirty-four miners were shot dead and 78 injured when the police opened fire on them in Marikana [Reuters]

South African Police Commissioner Riah Phiyega has arrived at the Rustenburg Civic Centre to give evidence before the Farlam Commission of Inquiry over the Marikana mining massacre in August 2012.

Phiyega is expected on Thursday to provide evidence on the role played by the police in the events leading up to and on August 16, when 34 striking mineworkers were shot dead and 78 injured when the police opened fire on them near the mining town of Marikana.

Advocate Ishmael Semenya, for the police, called Phiyega to give evidence and was sworn in by the commission's chairman, retired judge Ian Farlam.

Ten people, including two police officers and two security guards, were killed near the mine in the preceding week.

The police commissioner is expected to shed light on a range of ambiguities, including who told the police to use live ammunition on the protesting miners.

Police actions

In October, George Bizos SC, for the Legal Resources Centre and the Bench Marks Foundation, told the commission the conduct of the police officers was "unique".

He said he and his team would lead evidence to prove that the shootings on August 16 were acts of revenge by police officers for the earlier deaths of their colleagues.

On August 17, Phiyega said the police had use "force to protect themselves" from the group of protesting miners, who refused to disperse peacefully.

At the time, Phiyega said that as commissioner she "gave police the responsibility to execute the task they needed to do".

Attorneys representing the police told the commission in October that the police were not given orders to shoot and the situation had slipped out of control.

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Source:
Al Jazeera And Agencies
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