News: JUNE 2013

20 June 2013

Advocate Madlanga proceeded to cross examine Major General Mpembe.
Major General Mpembe said that the position of Nyala 6 and other Nyala’s were moved westwards; these changes happened after 13:30. When asked why Nyala 6 was not in its original position before 13:30 Mpembe said Major General Annandale was the overall commander in his absence.
At the 13:30 meeting, General Mpembe said the change in Nyala 6 original position was not mentioned. “It was only after Mr Mathunjwa’s last address that General Annandale told me of the change and why it was done,” said the Major General.

“Why did the police plan to protect the informal settlement behind the Forward Holding Area 2 (FHA) but not make provision for the same protection for Nkaneng where the protestors were likely to move towards,” asked Adv. Madlanga. Major General Mpembe replied by saying that according Lieutenant Colonel Scott’s statement, provision was made for the protection of Nkaneng.

Major General Mpembe agreed that before the implementation of stage 3 there was supposed to have been a warning. The General also agreed that there was no impediment to protestors leaving the koppie and going to Nkaneng with their weapons, upon leaving voluntarily after the warning. General Mpembe said that it was in the discretion of the commander to arrest the striking workers or ask them to disarm because sometimes when arresting protestors on the scene, they may be aggravated.

“My experience in dispersal actions is that one must put up a defensive measure and warn the protestors in a language they can understand, and only then will some disperse. In order to encourage those left behind, the commander will tell those left behind about further action to be taken. If the majority realise that there is a show of force, they will disperse before the dispersal action commences. Usually only a small group will remain and the police officers at the scene will be able to disperse the remaining group. On the 14th and the 15th of August 2012 we increased visibility and also did sector policing at all flashpoint areas including Nkaneng,” continued the Major General.

Major General Mpembe said there were weapons confiscated from the protestors on 14 and 15 and he said he will check further.
Advocate Madlanga said the alleged protection of the informal settlement is an afterthought.

18 June 2013

Adv. Ngalwana continued to lead Major General Mpembe in his evidence in chief.
Major General Mpembe placed it on record that the National Instruction on Public Order Policing Regulations is only a draft and not a binding document. The Standing Order 262 is the one in place and it is binding.

He further testified that he has not given details of the shooting on 16/08/2012 because he was not at the scenes where the shootings occurred. “I was in the helicopter and I could not see clearly what was happening on the ground because it was flying at a much higher altitude,” he said.
According to the Police’s plan, General Mpembe said they were planning to channel the protesters towards the west. “We did not want them to go towards the power station because we feared a stampede. We wanted them to go towards Karee hostel because we had received a report that that’s where most of the striking workers stayed.”

The Major General said the police had never held a conference such as the one that was held in Potchefstroom after the Marikana incident.
General Mpembe told the Commission of an instance where a barbed wire was used successfully in a crowd management operation. He said that in 2010 there was a crowd management operation in Ventersdorp, after AWB leader’s death Eugene Terreblance. The General testified that there AWB members, ANCYL members and community members. He said a barbed wire was used to separate the police and all the different groupings and there was no attack.
“On 13/08/2012 I was on the scene when police officers were charged at and they defended themselves. On the 16th I was not on the scene but I saw a video footage showing an attack towards the police. I can attribute the tragedy that happened in Marikana on private and self – defence,” continued the Major General.

Advocate Madlanga told General Mpembe that he is the only police officer who foresaw the loss of life on the 13th and 15th.
“On the 15th of August 2012 you refused Mr Senzeni Zokwana’a advice that the strikers should be disarmed because you feared that there might be a bloodshed,” said Advocate Madlanga.

General Mpembe said that during his conversation with Mr Zokwana he wanted him to understand that it is not easy to convince the striking workers to disarm and that he wanted to be told the names of the conveners and the names of those who were forcibly taken to the koppie. He further said that he did not want to tell Mr Zokwana about the police’s plans because it was confidential.
“On the 13th, I was mainly avoiding bloodshed from both participants and community members and other people,” said the Major General.

13 June 2013

SAPS legal counsel, Adv. Vuyani Ngalwana took North West Deputy Police Commissioner, William Mpembe through his evidence in chief.
Major General Mpembe said that during a police operation, lethal force is never used. He explained that in Marikana, he had feared that there may be bloodshed on the 15th because there were suspicions that some of the striking workers were carrying firearms beneath the blankets. “So we had feared that there may be bloodshed as a result of the confrontation between the police and the striking workers,” he said.

The Major General stated that on the 14th of August 2012 the JOComm adopted the Marikana plan as well as the dispersal process. “The meeting that I had on the 15th of August with the union leaders I did not disclose any contents of the Police’s plan because the plan was highly confidential.”

“On 16/08/2012 things changed. All the negotiations between the Police and the striking workers failed. Negotiations between the workers and the two unions also failed. We had also had negotiators talking to the striking workers. So the negotiations had been occurring from Monday 13 August 2012 until Thursday morning. There was always a danger of further killings because the ‘employer’ refused to talk to the striking workers,” continued the Major General.
Continuing with his testimony, Major General Mpembe said that on the 16th of August 2012, police commanders who were trying to negotiate with the striking workers revealed that the mood of the striking workers had changed and General Mpembe says he feared that innocent bystanders, such as women and other people from the informal settlement, may be killed.

During the JOComm meeting on 16/08/2012, the Major General said that a written intelligence report was presented by Colonel Isaacs, where it was stated that 300 protesters were gathered at the koppie, armed with dangerous weapons and were unwilling to lay them down and were prepared to fight if their demands were not met. The General said that the events of the previous day were explained during the said briefing.

“At the media briefing on 16/08/2012, Provincial Commissioner Mbombo’s message was to say that the matter will be resolved. I don’t recall her saying that today is ‘D-day’. After the briefing we went back to the JOC and we were told that Mr Joseph Mathunjwa had not addressed the workers at the koppie. Provincial Commissioner Mbombo then called Mr Mathunjwa in my presence to remind him (Mr Mathunjwa) of the promises he made the day before. The Provincial Commissioner’s cell-phone was not on loudspeaker and I could not hear Mr Mathunjwa’s responses. After the call, Ms Mbombo did not inform me of what Mr. Mathunjwa’s response was,” said Mr. Mpembe.

General Mpembe told the Commission that Mr Joseph Mathunjwa addressed the workers at the koppie and he came back and he asked to see the Provincial Commissioner at around 12:00 and 13:00. He said that he told Mr Mathunjwa that General Mbombo had gone to Ferncrest hospital to visit Lieutenant Baloyi who was injured and in hospital.

11 June 2013

National Police Commissioner, General Riah Phiyega, was re-examined by the SAPS legal representatives.

The Police Commissioner said that all the documents she submitted to the Commission are an evolution of her statement and that they don’t contradict each other. She denied talking about the police’s plan in her discussions with the Minister of Police.

“Would the Minister have understood, in your discussions with him, that the plan has different levels?” asked the SAPS’ legal counsel. “No, because those are operational intricacies of the plan. I discussed with the Minister that we are planning to disperse the crowd at the koppie,” replied the Police General.

General Phiyega explained that during the police’s Marikana operation, she took decisions that are of an enabling and strategic nature; including the deploying of units from other provinces. I left operational decisions to those on the ground who were responsible for them. I did not take any operational decisions in Marikana. I have not done anything about the SAPS member’s usage of R5’s because matters relating to the type of equipment we use cannot be changed overnight,” continued the Police Commissioner.

She further explained that SAPS members are prohibited from carrying firearms if they suffer from a psychiatric condition. “The member without a firearm will not be deployed to outside operations but he will have to undergo counselling and treatment and will be assigned with office work,” she said.

The Police Commissioner said she does not believe that the misinformation in her statement was deliberately placed by someone in order to mislead. She further confirmed that during her briefing she was informed of the usage of muthi by the striking workers, but she did not know that the muthi story informed the police’s plan.

When asked by Judge Farlam on whether she agrees that the SAPS’ de-militarisation will undoubtedly take place, General Phiyega denied this and said she does not agree. She said that the discussions currently taking place at the SAPS head office are whether a rank defines militarisation or if this should be measured by the behaviour.