Former South African Police Services media relations practitioner Brigadier Lindela Mashigo may be the last witness for evidence leaders after his damning testimony at the Claassen Board of Inquiry into national commissioner General Riah Phiyega’s fitness to remain in office.
Mashigo yesterday dropped a bombshell when he denied taking part in preparing an internal briefing document, in contradiction to a statement by Phiyega to the Farlam Commission.
Phiyega had stated that he and Captain Dennis Adriao were responsible for both the internal document and the media statement released in August 2012, which were materially different from each other.
Mashigo also said he had only effected “certain changes” to the media statement – after receiving it from Adriao – which were dictated by Phiyega.
Under questioning by evidence leader Ismail Jamie SC, Mashigo said Phiyega dictated he should not include the fact there were two different scenes were striking miners had been killed.
“The changes came about through dictation by the national commissioner. The main changes were on the [media] statement,” said Mashigo.
He said the internal briefing document – which differentiated between the two killing fields – was meant to be the media release as well.
Mashigo said the line: “The militant group stormed towards the police firing shots and wielding dangerous weapons. Police retreated systematically and were forced to utilise maximum force to defend themselves” was also dictated by Phiyega.
The Farlam Commission stated Phiyega had sought to conceal the second killing field from the public.
According to the internal briefing document at scene one, 16 people were killed and 13 wounded, while at scene two, 13 more people died and 15 were wounded.
This was altered to reflect 34 miners killed while th more than 78 injured.
A total of six firearms were removed from both scenes, one of them belonging to a police member killed earlier in the week.
Judge Ian Farlam noted Phiyega was unable to explain the differences, other than to say “… it was important for us not to be putting in detail that may not have been fully confirmed‟.
Advocate William Mokhari requested an adjournment until today in order to prepare for his cross-examination of Mashigo.
It is not known yet if Phiyega will take the stand, however if she doesn’t, it could have serious ramifications for her.