Phiyega pushes ahead with inquiry

Suspended SAPS National Commissioner General Riah Phiyega. Picture: GCIS

Suspended SAPS National Commissioner General Riah Phiyega. Picture: GCIS

Speculation has long been rife Phiyega would try to prevent the Farlam Report being used in the inquiry.

Suspended national police commissioner General Riah Phiyega will only file papers to have the Farlam Report overturned once the Claassen Board of Inquiry has concluded, The Citizen can reveal.

Speculation has long been rife Phiyega would try to prevent the Farlam Report being used in the inquiry, which would have stopped it in its tracks.

But on Tuesday William Mokhari SC for Phiyega insisted the inquiry not be delayed, as it was on Tuesday when a witness who was due to testify could not on account of there being no interpreter.

On Wednesday four witnesses are expected to give evidence, among them a pathologist who will testify as to the nature of the gunshot wounds sustained by some of the 34 miners gunned down in Marikana in 2012 by police.

Major General Elias Mawela, who was present at the high-level meeting on August 15, 2012, is also expected to testify and will possibly face questions about if he advised Phiyega of the consequences of going over to a “tactical option”, a question Phiyega allegedly refused to answer during the Farlam Commission.

Tuesday was a bad day in the office for Phiyega.

All of her actions and statements during the Farlam Commission are now fair game for evidence leaders at the Claassen Board of Inquiry into her fitness to hold office now underway at the SA Law Reform Commission offices in Centurion, Tshwane.

Evidence leaders advocates Thabani Masuku and Deidré Kusevitsky are being led by advocate Ismail Jamie SC, who opened proceedings with a motion to bring in witnesses and adduce Phiyega’s actions as proof she was unfit for her position.

It was vehemently opposed by Mokhari who, however, eventually conceded the right of the evidence leaders to bring in witnesses.

Chair of the Inquiry Judge Neels Claassen said Mokhari’s concession was the correct concession. Given the inquiry was of an employee/employer nature and therefore a disciplinary hearing,  Claassen said it would be “absurd” to suggest that in this particular enquiry the evidence leaders would not be entitled to call witnesses, but they had to be relevant to the terms of reference to the inquiry.

The judge found further Phiyega’s actions would also be relevant to the inquiry.

These would include her “unqualified endorsement” of police action at Marikana, which may have “frustrated” the Farlam Commission; her concealment of two killing fields; and if her testimony at the commission was “in keeping with the office which she holds and the discharge of her duties commensurate therewith”.

There was also the matter of Phiyega having refused to allow an expert witness to testify, and described the Farlam Report as malicious.

“For a public servant to accuse a Judge of the Supreme Court of Appeal of malice is a serious charge which is unwarranted. There is no basis for this unwarranted attack,” Jamie said.

He made the point this was itself an indication Phiyega was not fit to hold office.

Phiyega – represented by attorney Sandile July and Mokhari – had to sit in the Inquiry during a break while members of the Marikana Support Campaign chanted loudly “Blood on her hands”.

Proceedings were halted yesterday for an illegible statement to be retyped and a Tswana interpreter made available.

Jamie said he wished to call about 14 witnesses to testify  before the inquiry.


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