Lt-Col Jimmy Lucas, who was the police’s operational commander for removals on June 2, said he had raised his concerns with Fiona Bester, a lawyer for the SA National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral).
“I personally had a lot of concerns and every time the legal person from Sanral assured me that this order was on the highest level approved,” he testified at the inquiry into the removals.
“I had no reason at all to believe that this was not a valid court order. I acted bona fide with all the relevant role players.”
Lucas said he would have been held in contempt of the Western Cape High Court if he had not given effect to certain things stated in the interim order, granted on January 24.
The police insisted their role was to help the sheriff of the court in executing the court order and primarily, to uphold public order.
The inquiry was set up by Human Settlements Minister Lindiwe Sisulu to probe the removals of people and structures from the Sanral reserve on June 2 and June 3.
Commission chairman advocate Denzil Potgieter had gone through the court order with advocate Ncumisa Mayosi, instructed by the state attorney on behalf of the SA Police Service.
They had differed in their interpretation of the order.
Potgieter said the order only allowed Sanral to stop people trying to invade the property in the interim, not to evict people already on the land.
To get rid of those with shacks on the land, proper eviction procedures had to be followed, he said.
Lucas said he faxed the order to the police’s legal department so they could scrutinise it, but could not provide the name of the person who signed it off.