SAPS team to look into competency

SAPS team to look into competency

The SAPS is establishing an independent team of experts to examine and review the competence of its public order policing interventions.


This is in line with recommendations by the Farlam Commission of Inquiry, chaired by retired judge Ian Farlam, into the August 2012 Marikana shootings in North West.

Police Minister Nathi Nhleko said on Sunday the focus in the SAPS this year would be on transformation and institutional reform, as per the National Development Plan and Farlam Commission recommendations.

“We have made some progress in constituting the panel of experts. What the panel will begin to look at is the question of the review of public order policing; looking at alternative methods in so far as issues of crowd control and managing incidents of public protests,” Nhleko told journalists in Pretoria.

“The panel will look at the other available tools and equipment for use which are non-lethal in character and execution.”

He said a series of consultations were held to find suitable candidates for appointment to the panel.

Local panel members included Gareth Newham of the Institute for Security Studies, Themba Masuku of the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation, independent expert David Bruce, Adele Kirsten of Gun Free SA, Eldred de Klerk of the Africa Centre for Security and Intelligence Practice, and independent expert Elizabeth Grobler, as well as police experts.

International experts on the panel included Dutch policing expert Cees de Rover. Other international experts would be drawn from countries including Russia, China, Brazil, and Italy.

The Farlam Commission investigated the death of 44 people during unrest at Lonmin’s platinum mine at Marikana, near Rustenburg in North West.

Police fired on a group of mostly striking mineworkers, killing 34 of them on August 16, 2012. Around 70 people were injured and more than 200 were arrested. Police claimed they were trying to disperse and disarm them.

Ten people, including two policemen and two Lonmin security guards, were killed in the preceding week.

In December, the presidential board of inquiry looking into suspended national police commissioner Riah Phiyega’s fitness to hold office became operational with the appointment of an inquiry secretary.

“The board has appointed advocate Liza Tsatsi as secretary,” President Jacob Zuma’s office said in a statement at the time.

Zuma established the board in September last year following a recommendation by the Farlam Commission.

The commission’s report said Phiyega should shoulder much of the blame for the operational blunders that led up to the shooting.

The terms of reference of the board of inquiry include investigating whether Phiyega, acting with others in the SAPS leadership structures, “misled the commission” by hiding the fact that they had authorised the “tactical option” during a management meeting on the day before the shootings.

The board of inquiry would also investigate whether Phiyega, while taking the decision to go the tactical route, could have foreseen the “tragic and catastrophic consequences which ensued”.

Zuma also wants the inquiry to establish whether a report prepared for him, and a media statement issued on August 17, 2012, was “deliberately amended” to hide the fact that there were two shooting incidents, “resulting in misleading the public that all the deaths had occurred at scene one which arose out of members of SAPS having to defend themselves from an advancing mass”.

On Sunday, Nhleko said he was not in a position to update the media on the Phiyega inquiry.

“On the disciplinary process for our current national commissioner [Phiyega], I will not be able to give you timelines and so forth, precisely because that process is being handled somewhere else and not within the ministry of police,” said Nhleko.

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