News: AUGUST 2013

28 August 2013

Advocate Le Roux proceeded to cross-examine Major General Mpembe.
Major General Mpembe said that each of the three units at the koppie 3 had their own commanders and that police officers on the ground were acting on their own initiative as they heard the gunfire and therefore no one was coordinating the five units. “I understood why they acted on their own but I think the five units should have been coordinated.”

General Mpembe said that Brigadier Fritz was sent by Major General Annandale to go into the chopper and check, from the air, if the groups had dispersed and to ensure that they don’t attack the police. The General further agreed that Lieutenant Colonel Vermaak and Brigadier Fritz were Brigadier Calitz’s eye in the sky.

When asked if Brigadier Calitz had told General Mpembe where the arrests had been happening, he replied by saying that the protesters were arrested in the field and that Brigadier Calitz later said he was going to scene 2 where major arrests had happened and that’s where also most weapons were found.
Adv. Le Roux asked if the Major General knew of any policy that prescribes the procedure to be followed when one police officer sees another one committing a wrongful act, as the case with Warrant Officer Myburgh. Major General Mpembe replied by saying that the practice is that the member who witnesses this should report the incident to the commander. “However the incident can be addressed to the MEC for Safety and Security, IPID or the Public Protector,” continued the Major General.

When cross-examined by Advocate Kameshnie Pillay, General Mpembe said that it was not necessary for him to have one on one negotiations with any the striking workers on 13/08/2013 as prescribed by the SAPS Standing Order 262, because the gathering was spontaneous and there was no convener for him to speak to. “I could not pull one of the striking workers aside and talk to them because of the hostile mood of the strikers. I further did not ask for an individual to speak to. Because of the application of the principle of Situational Appropriateness, it was not wise for me to have a one on one with any of the protesters.

27 August 2013

Advocate Le Roux continued to cross-examine Major General Mpembe.
General Mpembe said that safety considerations to be borne in mind when using stun grenades are that they must be preceded by a warning; they must not be thrown around a group of people; it must be rolled out so as not to cause hearing damage or injury and it must be deployed from a distance. However, the Major General said that in self or private defence not all these rules will be complied with.

The Major General said that he briefed the Provincial Commissioner, the National Commissioner and Major General Annandale on the incidents of the 13th of August 2013.

“When briefing the Provincial Commissioner I told her that teargas and stun grenades were used but at the time I did not know on what circumstances they were used. I told her that one police officer was killed at the scene and another one died in hospital and I further told her that Lt. Baloyi was critically injured and airlifted to hospital. I told her that Lt. Col. Vermaak had used a stun grenade in self-defence and it was only later that I knew and told the Provincial Commissioner that Lt. Baloyi also used a stun grenade. I made it clear to her that I did not give the instruction for teargas to be used and I further told her about the threat on my life at the JOC,” said the Major General.

“In the media briefing transcript, the Provincial Commissioner said that the protesters suddenly turned and attacked the police, she makes no reference to the provocative effect had, do you have any comment on this?” asked Adv. Le Roux. General Mpembe replied by saying that he does not know and he is unable to comment.

According to the Major General’s testimony, when the barbed wire was being rolled out on 16/08/2012 he was busy attending to other matters but he was not at the JOC. “I don’t quite remember where I was.”

Advocate Le Roux said that according to the various statements and pocket books, General Mpembe knew that something had happened and that is why he went into the chopper. However the Major General denied this saying that when he went into the chopper he did not know that the shootings had already occurred.

Major General Mpembe said that he cannot confirm or deny if any police officer had used a cell phone on the 16th of August 2012; and that he does not know of anyone who used a cell phone while discharging their duties on the day.

26 August 2013

Ms Le Roux, on behalf of the South African Human Rights Commission, commenced with cross-examining Major General William Mpembe.
Major General Mpembe testified that Colonel Isaacs and Brigadier Engelbrecht from Crime Intelligence attended the JOC Comm meetings and that they provided information at the JOC orally.

The Major General said he expected Crime Intelligence to provide information such as the names of the people who were involved in instigating or destabilising the situation; precisely the type of weapons they had; where they stayed. Since people were being killed and most were scared for their lives, General Mpembe said getting this information was not easy.

He further said that they did not know who the people were of where they stayed but police knew the type of weapons they had but did not know who had them, especially the weapons taken from the police and security officers.
“In my opinion the intelligence we received was inadequate,” said the Major General.

When asked if he instructed Brigadier Engelbrecht to compile an application for the cordon and search, the Major General agreed and said that it was not known exactly which house or shack to search for weapons.

According to Advocate Le Roux, Mr. Gary White says that if the different sectional commanders don’t clearly communicate their plans during an operation then there will be confusion among the police officers. General Mpembe agreed that Standing Order 262 states that sectional commanders need to compile plans of what they will be doing but further said that this was altered because the operational commander had already drawn up plans of what the different units will be doing.

The Major General said that he did a course in riot control in 1986. “Though your training is valid, do you agree that best practice in riot control has changed substantially from the late 80’s to date?” asked Advocate Le Roux. General replied by saying that Mr White’s criticism of his qualifications only focused on the Regulation of Gatherings Act and that it does not consider what was happening in Marikana.

General Mpembe agreed that he had received training where he managed various police units such as the Tactical Response Team, Special Task Force, National Intervention Unit, etc. He said that he further managed the 2010 Soccer World Cup before which he attended different courses.

“The training I did in 1986 also focused on how to disarm protesters because you cannot disarm a group of protesters if you don’t disperse them. In disarming a group of armed protesters, one has to first disperse into smaller groups, communicate with them, use teargas and stun grenades to disorientate them, this will then have eliminated crowd psychology and an inyala will then be used in disarming them. Police units meant to specifically disarm a crowd are the POP, STF and NIU. The combination of these units will then achieve the desired outcome,” said General Mpembe.

Major General Mpembe further testified that there were two water cannons for use at Marikana. He also said that the decision to make a call-up for the water cannons was made by him and Brigadier Calitz.

“We wanted as many water cannons as possible to be sent to the Marikana operation. The reason we wanted many is because normally after dispersing a group, they would then re-group and water cannons are helpful in dispersing the re-grouped crowd. Another advantage of water cannons is that protesters who have been marked can be seen and arrested. Water cannons can flush the protesters and disperse them. Two additional water cannons would have been helpful if the first two run out of water. The water can be mixed with a fluid that causes irritation on the protesters; but this was not done in Marikana,” said the Major General.

When he asked for water cannons, General Mpembe said he expected them to come with expert drivers or people who were able to operate them and that he did not know that the water cannon drivers from Johannesburg had only received a 2 hours ‘crash course’ two years ago on how to operate the water cannons.
When asked if there was a plan to deal with the smaller more militant group, the Major General said that the plan was to deal with the entire group of protesters. “Normally after they have dispersed, it is anticipated that a smaller group would remain and they would then be disarmed,” concluded the Major General.

23 August 2013

Advocate Gumbi continued to cross-examine Major General William Mpembe.

General Mpembe testified that on the 14th/08/2012 he told all commanders to ask SAPS members to indicate if they will be able to continue working and it was only Colonel Diole who said he will not be able to work and he was immediately released.
“On 13/08/2012, before the incident there was confusion among SAPS members and there was no communication between you and you commanders,” said Advocate Gumbi.

The Major General disagreed and said that the line of command was very clear and that communication was sufficient among everyone.
“Tactical communication, such as loud hailers on nyala’s was not used to communicate with the protesters moving from the railway line to the koppie,” continued the Advocate.

General Mpembe said that there is no SAPS policy that requires him to use a loudhailer. He says he was only required to speak loudly enough to be heard. He further agreed SAPS standing order 262 states that as the overall commander, General Mpembe was responsible for all the actions on 13/08/2012.
“The application of the principle of situational appropriateness was flawed on 13/08/2013. Issues such as the line of communication, confusion among some of the SAPS members and their safety while escorting the striking workers were not sufficiently prioritised. SAPS officers were supposed to remain in the nyala while escorting the protesters from the railway line to the koppie. Notebooks and diaries of 13/08/2012 indicate that there was an instruction to confront and disarm the protesters which led to the death and injury to some of the SAPS officers,” concluded Advocate Gumbi.

22 August 2013

Mr Gumbi continued with cross-examining Major General Mpembe.
The legal representative for the family of slain officer Sello Leepaku, and for Lieutenant Shitumo Solomon Baloyi, said that Lt. Baloyi asserted that as operational commander, General Mpembe should have explained everything to the members.

Major General Mpembe denied giving an instruction to Constable Mathivha to escort the striking workers and block the group in the front.
General Mpembe continued to deny ever having authorised the use of a teargas or stun grenade, contrary to statements and notebooks of several police officers who were at the scene. He further denied having instructed the police members to stop the striking workers.

“I deny ever giving an instruction for the usage of a CS gas. During the briefing, I told the SAPS members to exercise a degree of tolerance and I also explained to them that we should avoid another ‘Tatane’ case.”

Mr Gumbi said that his client (Lt Baloyi) said that Mpembe did not give an order for the police to escort the protesters to the koppie.
“There was no de-briefing after the incidents of 13/08/2012. The reason why we did not have a de-briefing is because the incidents of that day are not separate from the entire operation.

20 August 2013

Major General Mpembe was cross-examined by Louis Gumbi, for the family of slain officer Sello Leepaku, and for Lieutenant Shitumo Solomon Baloyi.
General Mpembe agreed with Mr Gumbi that he had the perspective of the police and that of Lonmin before addressing the striking miners near the railway line on 13/08/2012.

He further said that he knew they had received help from other provinces for the Marikana operation but did not know where the help came from specifically.
“I was the overall commander for the Marikana operation and Brigadier Calitz was the operational commander but on the 13th, I was also acting as the operational commander. Colonel Merafe confirmed with me that he had orientated or briefed the SAPS members who had arrived at Marikana from other provinces,” continued the Major General.

Major General Mpembe denied that it was possible that there had been no briefing for SAPS officers who came from other provinces. He said he does not believe this because he has trust in the officer who told him that this was done.

“When I briefed the cluster commanders on 13/08/2012, I explained to them that I could see the mood of the crowd and I said if the strikers don’t hand over their weapons, the police should then not confront them,” said General Mpembe.

During the briefing, General Mpembe said he did not expressly say that on the previous day two security officers were killed because it was common knowledge. The Major General further testified that he did not tell the SAPS members that muthi was used the day before.

When SAPS members are called out from other provinces, General Mpembe said they are required to bring all necessary equipment’s.
Lieutenant Colonel Baloyi will testify that he did not he did not have the necessary equipment that he should have had. He did not have rubber rounds, he only had a few which he obtained from his colleague which were insufficient,” said Mr Gumbi.

“If the protesters did not hand over their weapons to the police at the railway line, I told SAPS members of what was going to happen. After we allowed the protesters to move along the railway line, I informed the SAPS members to escort the striking workers,” testified General Mpembe.
The Major General further said that he did not inform SAPS members of the route to be used by the striking workers but I emphasised the need to protect the informal settlement as the striking workers were being escorted to the koppie. “I did not tell the SAPS members to use the nyala’s during the escort nor did I tell them to remain in the nyala’s during the escort.”

General Mpembe denied that a police Nyala should have led the striking workers in order to channel them.
“I did not know the route to be used from the railway line to the koppie because the protesters forced their way,” said Major General Mpembe.