The board of inquiry into suspended national police commissioner General Riah Phiyega’s actions before, during and after 34 miners were killed by members of the SA Police Service at Lonmin Mine in Marikana, North West, in late 2012 is expected to begin in Centurion, Tshwane today.
However, it won’t be without hiccups. It is believed the Presidency has on two occasions tried to stop the process it began when it announced the Claasen Board of Inquiry under Judge Cornelis Claasen in August because it apparently needed to study the Marikana Report by Judge Ian Farlam.
When permission was refused, it then allegedly needed to consider some of the issues raised by Phiyega, for which permission was also refused. Phiyega has repeatedly called for the inquiry to begin, believing it will clear her name. But she has instituted an application to set aside the Farlam Commission findings based on allegations that Farlam copied and pasted more than 130 instances directly from evidence leaders heads of argument into his final report.
The report recommended an inquiry into Phiyega’s fitness to hold office. If a court agrees with Phiyega, it may put the Claasen Inquiry in jeopardy with regards to its legal foundations.
Phiyega has five hoops to jump through: did she conceal the decision to implement a “tactical option” then fail to take cognisance of the “catastrophic consequences” which would follow; her “unqualified endorsement” of police action at Marikana which frustrated the Farlam Commission; concealment of two killing fields; if her testimony at the commission was “in keeping with the office which she holds; and the discharge of her duties commensurate therewith”.
Statements about Phiyega’s testimony such as “she in effect declined to answer”, “that answer is not a valid explanation of the changes”, “we contend that General Phiyega’s testimony … is both unsatisfactory and unconvincing” pepper the Marikana Report.
Costs of Claasen Board of Inquiry
- Judge Cornelis Johannes Claasen will be paid an allowance of R573 per hour, but not more than R4 584 per day, during his tenure as head of the board of inquiry into General Riah Phiyega’s fitness to hold office.
- As Claasen’s assistants, senior advocates Bernard Sakhile Khuzwayo and Anusha Rawjee will be able to claim R426 per hour each, but not more than R3 408 per day.
- This is contained in Treasury’s remuneration of non-official members: commissions and committees of inquiry dated September 2015. The inquiry is expected to run for 30 days.
General Riah Phiyega’s qualifications
- She was born in Polokwane and went to primary and secondary schools in Limpopo.
- She holds a BA (social work) degree from the University of the North, a BA Hons (social science) from Unisa, an MA (social science) degree from the University of Johannesburg and a post-graduate diploma in business administration from Wales University in the UK.
- She also attended executive development programmes at the National University of Singapore and Wharton University in the US.
- Phiyega is a former group executive of Absa Bank. She was also a board member of Absa Actuaries, chair of Gotswelela Trust and trustee of the Absa Foundation. – Saps