Police watchdog, the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) did not properly follow its mandate in its investigations of the Marikana massacre in 2012, the North West High Court heard on Thursday.
“I put to you that Ipid did not do its job as prescribed in the act, if you did your job [properly] we would not have been here [in court],” advocate Jan Ellis told an Ipid investigator.
Ellis was cross-examining the investigator in the trial against former North West police deputy commissioner Major-General William Mpembe, Gideon van Zyl, Dingaan Madoda and Oupa Pule, who were charged with contravening the Independent Police Investigative Directorate Act, defeating the ends of justice and contravening the Commissions Act.
The four policemen were arrested after an Ipid investigation, which found that one mine worker, Modisaotsile van Wyk Sagalala, died in police custody and not in hospital or at the scene when the police shot dead 34 mine workers on 16 August 2012 in Marikana.
The state charged that they concealed the circumstances of his death. It was only after an Ipid investigation that a case was opened in February 2017 and the four policemen were arrested in March 2018.
The investigator told the court that 16 people died at scene one, 14 at scene two and four in hospital. He said when he was separating the photos for the different scenes he came across a one showing a body in a police vehicle.
A case was then opened. Prior to this there was no mention of a person dying in police custody and it was assumed four people had died in hospital.
Ellis said Ipid investigators did not visit the detention centre where 259 arrested mine workers were processed, and they did not peruse the occurrence book at the hub centre.
“If you did peruse the occurrence book, there is an entry about a body found in a Canter [police truck].”
He said investigators found high-ranking police officers, including former North West provincial commissioner Lieutenant-General Zukiswa Mbombo and former national police commissioner Ria Phiyega at the Joint Operation Centre (JOC) in Marikana, yet they proceeded to the scene without questioning why high-ranking police officers were at the information hub.
“You see these people [high-ranking police officers] at this building, you pass them and go to scene,” he said.
The investigator told the court that injured people were transported to various hospitals in Rustenburg by ambulances and not police vehicles.
He said the only injured person transported in a police vehicle was Modisaotsile van Wyk Sagalala, who later died in police custody.
He explained that according to affidavits he checked, arrested mine workers were shouting that a person was dying in the back of a police truck while they were transported from scene two to a detention centre at Lonmin’s premises in Marikana.
Scene two is a small koppie about 150m from the kraal (scene one) where mineworkers were shot dead.
Ellis told the court that it was Pule (accused four) who had called the local crime record (LCR) to the scene once the body was found in the police truck and that an officer from the LCR took pictures of the body.
He said that this showed that there was no evidence that there was intention to conceal the death.
He also told the court that Mpembe and Van Zyl would deny that it was their responsibility to report to Ipid that a body was found in a police truck.
Before the court adjourned, Advocate Michael Ramashaba, who appeared for Madoda and Pule, asked why case dockets were not opened for people who died in hospital.
Ramashaba will cross-examine the Ipid investigator when the hearing resumes on Friday.
Ellis appeared for Mpembe and Van Zyl and Advocate Jacob Tloubatla appeared for the state.
– African News Agency (ANA)