3 May 2016

South Africa: Phiyega Inquiry - Widen the Terms to Include All Failings, Mr President

Photo: Government of South Africa
Riah Phiyega (file photo).
press release

Suspended National Police Commissioner (NPC), Riah Phiyega, is currently the only government office-bearer scheduled to appear before the Claasen board of inquiry into her fitness for office that starts today. This is due to President Zuma's failure to accede to the DA's request that the inquiry's terms of reference be broadened to cover Phiyega's entire disastrous career and other government actors who contributed to the Marikana Massacre that saw 44 mineworkers needlessly killed.

We again call on President Zuma to widen the terms of reference into this inquiry to include all of Phiyega's failings during her tenure and the failings of other leaders in government to avoid the bloodshed of that tragic day.

The inquiry into Phiyega is based solely on the recommendations of the Farlam Commission into the Marikana Massacre. However, Phiyega's failings go far beyond the tragedy of Marikana and there is a wide range of issues that necessitate widening the inquiry's terms of reference.

The DA made submissions last year to President Zuma detailing the factors that rendered Phiyega unfit as the operational and administrative head of the SAPS. Her failings over the past three years have been example upon example of her fundamental incompetence that lies at the root of her key role in the events that led to the Marikana Massacre.

She has presided over the persistent and chronic decline of the SAPS that preceded her and compromised its ability to ensure that ordinary South Africans are safe and secure in their homes, workplaces and on the streets. The damning findings of the Ministerial Reference Group (MRG), established by Police Minister, Nathi Nhleko, in October 2014, also found Phiyega responsible for perjury, misconduct, fraud and misleading Parliament.

Yet, Riah Phiyega cannot simply be used as a scapegoat for those who bore the ultimate political responsibility for the tragic events at Marikana. The key political figures responsible - including Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, as well as then Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa, then Mineral Resources Minister Susan Shabangu, and Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant - cannot be let off the hook.

These senior political figures prioritised big business and financial self-interest ahead of the lives of ordinary South Africans who were exercising their constitutional right to protest. An inquiry process is required into the conduct and contribution of these senior political figures as well - not just Phiyega.

Compensation for families of those who lost their lives at Marikana is yet to occur. The families of those who died continue to suffer without financial support while President Zuma's government drags its heels on this matter. They have been forced to resort to filing a civil claim against the Minister of Police to compel government to compensate them for their loss.

The DA will continue to hold those in power accountable for their actions and ensure that those who have been wronged get the justice they so rightly deserve.

On 3 August we encourage all South Africans to vote for DA local governments that will prioritise community safety and crime prevention through effective metro police services and innovative municipal crime-fighting initiatives as we have done in Cape Town, alongside protecting our citizens and their constitutional right to protest that they are duty-bound to serve and protect during these times when crime is on the rise.

Zakhele Mbhele, Shadow Minister of Police

South Africa

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