South Africa: Officers in Court for Marikana Tragedy

A photo album that depicted a dead miner in the back of a police truck, is among the evidence that Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) officers had uncovered while probing the 2012 murders at Marikana.

The police truck had been used to transport miners from the scene where miners were killed at Marikana, to a police detention centre on August 16, 2012.

IPID revealed that the miner, Sekgala van Wyk, had died inside the police truck and not in hospital.

However, it is alleged that one of the police officials had lied to the Farlam Commission of Inquiry when he said that the miner had died in hospital. The commission was established to investigate the deaths of 44 people who had died during the violent wage-related strike at Marikana in 2012.

Four police officials, Major General William Mpembe, Brigadier Jacobus van Zyl, Brigadier Dingaan Madoda and Lieutenant Colonel Oupa Pule, are accused of failing to report this to the police watchdog.

The details emerged in the Rustenberg Magistrate's Court on Thursday when the four officials and five others appeared in connection with the Marikana tragedy in two separate cases.

The court released Mpembe, Van Zyl, Madoda and Pule on a warning.

Mpembe made a second court appearance on Thursday, alongside five other officers.

The second appearance was in connection with the murder of five people, including two police officers, on August 13, 2012 - three days before the Marikana massacre.

Mpembe was charged with four counts of murder, six counts of attempted murder and defeating the ends of justice.

His co-accused Johannes Vermaak, Nkosana Shepherd Mguye, Collins Mogale, Joseph Sekgweleya and Phillip Makhubela each face one count of murder.

Mpembe and Vermaak were each released on R5 000 bail, while the other officers were granted bail of R2 000 each.

Both cases were postponed to June 18 for a pre-trial conference in the Mogwase Circuit Court.

Courtroom D was packed to capacity as the nine police officials appeared, and families of some victims were also among those who attended the court proceedings.

A family member, who attended the proceedings said the case gave her hope that justice would be served.

"Seeing police appear here is much better than what happened at the commission. It is going to be a process, but everyone involved will eventually appear in court."

IPID spokesperson Moses Dlamini told reporters outside court on Thursday that investigations into the massacre were completed and that the dockets had been referred to the National Prosecuting Authority.

On August 16, 2012, police shot dead 34 miners and wounded scores more, while trying to put an end to the wage-related strike.

By the end of the strike, 44 people had died.

At the time, miners demanded that their pay be increased to R12 500 per month, nearly triple what they earned at the time.

Seventy-two police officers involved in the killing of the miners were investigated by the IPID.

Source: News24

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