Presidential board of inquiry into National Police Commissioner’s Marikana actions


President Jacob Zuma has set up a three person board of inquiry into allegations of misconduct against National Police Commission Riah Phiyega as well as her capacity to efficiently execute her official duties.

The board inquiry was established in terms of the SA Police Service Act and has been by Parliament’s Police Portfolio Committee and political parties. It members are Judge Johannes Cornelius Claasen (chair) and advocates Bernard Sakhile Khuzwayo and Anusha Rawjee.

On August 26, 2012, a commission of inquiry was appointed to investigate matters of public, national and international concern arising from tragic incidents at Lonmin’s Marikana mine during August 1 to 16 the same year.

About 44 people lost their lives and many others were injured.

The commission was chaired by retired Judge Ian Farlam, assisted by Advocates PD Hemraj SC and BR Tokota SC.

The commission was tasked with enquiring into and making findings and recommendations concerning the conduct of Lonmin Plc, the South African Police Service (SAPS), the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU), the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), the Department of Mineral Resources (DMR) and other government departments, as well as individuals and groupings.

The report recommended that there be an enquiry into Phiyega’s fitness to hold office.

Zuma has written to her to inform her of the recommendations pertaining to her.

The board of enquiry will, said the Presidency, probe whether Phiyega, acting together with other SAPS leadership or alone, misled the Marikana Commission of Enquiry by concealing it had made the decision to implement a “tactical option”, taken at the National Management Forum (NMF) meeting on or about August 15, 2012.

According to the Presidency, the board of inquiry will also enquire whether the decision taken to implement the “tactical option” ought reasonably to have foreseen the tragic and catastrophic consequences which ensued and that the remarks by the National Commissioner at the SAPS parade on August 17, 2012 would have been understood to be an unqualified endorsement of the police action and have the consequence of undermining, frustrating or otherwise impeding the work of the commission.

They will further enquire as to whether the report prepared by Phiyega for the President on August 16, 2012 and the media statement issued on a day later, was deliberately amended to conceal the fact that there were two shooting incidents – known as scene one and scene two – resulting in misleading the public that all the deaths had occurred at scene one which arose when police had to defend themselves from an advancing mass.

They will further enquire whether the overall testimony by the Commissioner at the commission was in keeping with the office she holds and the discharge of her duties.
“President Zuma has furnished National Commissioner General Phiyega with the terms of reference of the board of inquiry following her request for further clarity with regards to the inquiry, and has in addition accorded General Phiyega a further opportunity to make representations by September 28, as to why she should not be suspended pending the final determination of her fitness to hold office,” said the Presidency.

The Police Portfolio Committee said the board of inquiry was “an important development” that should be supported by all stakeholders so that it can be effective.

DA shadow police minister Dianne Kohler Barnard said the inquiry was “a step in the right direction” to attaining justice for the Marikana victims and their families but expressed disappointment its terms of reference were limited to the events at the platinum mine in North West.
“We had hoped the terms of reference would include her entire career as National Police Commissioner,” she said.

FF+ police spokesman Pieter Groenewald welcomed the inquiry adding Phiyega should be suspended immediately as “she has shown she does not hesitate to interfere with investigations”.