Suspended national commissioner of the SA Police Service General Riah Phiyega appeared to be relying heavily on the courts overturning the Farlam Report as her defence team closed its case on Friday at the Claassen board of inquiry without calling any witnesses.
As predicted on Thursday, evidence leader advocate Ismail Jamie SC also closed his case once advocate William Mokhari for Phiyega had finished crossed-examining former communications officer Brigadier Lindela Mashigo.
Mokhari spent much of the day trying to discredit Mashigo’s evidence that Phiyega had dictated the changes made to an internal briefing document before it was released as a media statement that in effect concealed that there were two scenes where miners had been killed.
Mashigo eventually did crack a little under the intense questioning and admit he did make changes to the document before Phiyega dictated her own changes and excluded the two scenes.
He noted it was he and former police spokesperson Captain Dennis Adriao who had made the changes, albeit in a room full of senior officers who had sight of all they did.
Mokhari also elicited an admission Mashigo had distributed a media statement written by Adriao wherein it was said a “heavily armed group of illegal gatherers at a hilltop close to Lonmin Mine …. the South African Police Service was viciously attacked by the group, using a variety of weapons, including firearms”.
This statement, referred to as an advisory, only made note of one scene, something Mokhari also hammered on.
However, Mashigo maintained he was still in Pretoria at the time, whereas Adriao was in Marikana.
Mokhari made much of Mashigo’s motives for testifying at the Claassen inquiry, circling repeatedly around the fact that Mashigo had never raised being implicated by Phiyega while the Marikana Commission of Inquiry was still in progress.
The inquiry resumes on June 1, where it is expected for the legal teams to present their closing arguments over three days.
Judge Neels Claassen will then present his report to President Jacob Zuma.