Police obstructing Marikana probe, MPs told

Police obstructing Marikana probe, MPs told

The police were obstructing investigations flowing from the recommendations of the Farlam commission of inquiry into the Marikana shooting, the Independent Police Investigative Directorate said on Tuesday.

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File photo: Gallo Images

Among the obstacles imposed, it told Parliament’s portfolio committee, was the police’s refusal to allow independent ballistics experts access to their facilities to conduct testing.

“The South African Police Services laboratories are saying they will not allow any independent forensics experts to use them,” said Joel Mosimanegape, IPID’s head in North West province.

He explained that this complicated the watchdog body’s probe into the police’s conduct at Marikana as independent experts lacked the level of equipment that was at the police’s disposal.

IPID’s investigation was further complicated by a disagreement with police on “technicalities” that arose last year when it began began probing the wiping of information from a memory stick, Mosimanegape said, that contained information on a meeting of the police’s National Management Forum on August 15, 2012 — the night before the massacre in which 34 striking mine workers were shot dead.

IPID has registered a case file against Brigadier Ledile Malahlela, the head of the executive secretariat risk and information management, who took home a memory stick that contained an audio recording of what was said between suspended national police commissioner Riah Phiyega and top brass about the powder keg Marikana had become.

Malahlela stands accused of defeating the ends of justice and breaching the Protection of Information Act of 1982 for failing to protect state information captured on the memory stick, Mosimanegape said.

Malahlela is reported to have held on to the memoray stick for six days, instead of handing it over for a transcript to be made, in which time the section in which Marikana was discussed, was deleted.

MPS suggested that it was highly improbable that one official would take it upon herself, without instruction, to tamper with sensitive information and asked what IPID was doing to get to the truth of how and why the recording was deleted, as well as who all had been involved.

“Honestly speaking, we have our suspicions but we can’t do anything other than go directly for her (Malahlela) and see what else the investigation reveals,” Mosimanegape said.

This prompted ANC MP Leonard Ramatlakane to say he was reminded of the apartheid days.

“You are going back to a bad era, reminding us of the old days … people disappearing, information disappearing,” he said.

The chairman of the portfolio committee, Francois Beukman, warned acting national police commissioner Lieutenant General Johannes Khomotso Phahlane that it would monitor the extent of the police force’s co-operation with the IPID investigation.

It was imperative, he said, that ballistics experts be allowed to conduct their work.

“From the committee’s side there will be no compromise,” Beukman said.

He also cautioned IPID that its progress in implementing the recommendations of the Farlam commission would be closely watched.

“It is a litmus test for oversight of the police services.” - ANA

(File photo: Gallo Images)

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