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Phiyega to reply to Ipid charges‚ as Popcru throws weight behind her

Suspended national police commissioner Riah Phiyega will on Wednesday give her response to the Independent Police Investigative Directorate’s (Ipid) decision to press charges against her.

Her reaction will be delivered at a press conference in Sandown shortly after noon.

Ipid announced on Tuesday that it has registered cases against four people involved in the Marikana shootings‚ including Phiyega and former North West commissioner Zukiswa Mbombo.

Ipid acting director Israel Kgamanyane told Parliament’s portfolio committee on police that the team tasked with implementing the Farlam Commission’s findings had registered criminal charges against Phiyega and Mbombo in September.

Cases of defeating the ends of justice were registered in January against Brigadier Ledile Malahlela and Major-General Ganasen Naidoo.

 Malahlela‚ who did not testify at the Farlam Commission due to a stress disorder‚ is being charged following the disappearance of a memory stick containing the minutes and recordings of an extraordinary meeting held by South African Police Service (SAPS) officials where the decision to act against striking workers at Marikana was taken.

 Naidoo‚ meanwhile‚ was tasked with ensuring that medical assistance reached those injured at scene one‚ but opted instead to attend scene two where his team was involved in the shooting.

Kgamanyane said that Naidoo had also not handed in his own weapon for ballistics testing following the shooting. It emerged during the commission that he had discharged his firearm.

Ipid said the charges against Phiyega and Mbombo have been sent to the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) for a decision to prosecute‚ and other charges could and would be formulated as investigations proceed.

 Charges against Malahlela and Naidoo have been formulated but have not yet been sent to the NPA for a decision.

The Farlam Commission investigated the circumstances surrounding the six-week strike in August 2012 at Lonmin’s Marikana platinum mine near Rustenburg‚ which left 44 people dead.

Most political parties welcomed the charges‚ but they also cautioned against Phiyega and Mbombo being used as “scapegoats” for those who bore the political responsibility for Marikana.

The Congress of the people said that it “believes that the political head must also take responsibility for what happened on that sad and fateful day…former minister of police Nathi Mthethwa must be charged along with the commissioner and the other three senior officials”.

The Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (Popcru)‚ however‚ took a different stance‚ saying it has “noted with astonishment” the charges against her‚ and reiterated that “we do not see or know of any reason as to…Phiyega should be charged”.

 “We stand by that stance and continue to fully support her‚” the union said on Wednesday.

“We are of the view that the matter has been turned into a point-scoring trail‚ and is no longer about Marikana‚ but something else. The fact that there are inquiries on top of inquiries leaves little to be desired.

 “Why could they not await the outcomes of the inquiry into her fitness to hold office?” Popcru asked.

That hearing‚ to be chaired by Judge Cornelis Johannes Claasen‚ is scheduled to run from May 3 until June 10 at the Law Reform Commission offices in Centurion.

“We view this latest move as a deliberate fishing expedition aimed at discrediting and tarnishing the name of General Phiyega in the public domain‚ as a way to stop any possibility of her return‚” said Popcru.