Photos at Farlam commission may show evidence tampering


A series of police photographs shown at the Farlam commission on Monday caused a stir as they appeared to reveal that police had tampered with the crime scene by planting and shifting weapons around the lifeless bodies of miners slain during the August 16 Marikana massacre.

The photographs, apparently taken by Captain Jeremiah Mohlaki and a police colleague identified as Warrant Officer Ramanala, were taken at different times of the crime scene investigation process and sparked calls for an urgent investigation into who ordered the tampering of the scene.

The commission was then told by South African Police Services advocate Ishmael Semenya that an investigation had been launched by the police commissioner, Ria Phiyega, two weeks ago when the photographs were brought to her attention.

Advocate George Bizos of the Legal Resources Centre said an investigation launched by the police commissioner into this serious offence could only be self-service, a remark which was criticised by Semenya, who failed to see the usefulness of the utterance.

Commission chairperson Ian Farlam said the commission would leave no stone unturned in investigating this matter, while evidence leader Mbuyiseli Madlanga said that the very existence of the photographs as part of evidence indicated that the commission was investigating thoroughly.

As part of the opening statements, Semenya revealed that his clients would argue that they had responded to the provocation from armed miners, especially in the series of killings which took place at scene two, on koppie two.      

Mohlaki, appearing not to defend the allegations of police interference with the crime scene, answered in the affirmative when asked by advocate Dali Mpofu whether the "traditional weapons" arrived between the "daylight and the dark", in reference to when the constrasting photos were taken.

A significant part of the afternoon was devoted to arguments about how the commission should proceed in its investigation of culpability, with evidence leaders arguing for priority to be given to the culpability of the police and the miners. The logic of this argument was that some miners were facing provisionally withdrawn criminal charges and would benefit from speedy assessment of their culpability. 

This argument was countered quite vociferously by Semenya, who argued that the police's use of force was made in the context of actions by the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) and Lonmin.

Semenya argued that the police's conduct should be viewed through the prism of the relevant legislation and standing orders to establish whether "the situation they found themselves in permitted their action" and "whether by act or omission" they contributed to the tragic situation.

"Throwing [the spotlight of] conduct exclusively at SAPS while not doing the same to Lonmin is unfair to the SAPS and is an illegal variance of the terms of reference of the commission," Semenya argued.

Semenya also stated that police had already been found guilty in the court of public opinion due to allegations of torture and execution-style shootings that he said were made without substance.

The commission resumes on Tuesday morning with a police presentation.

Kwanele Sosibo
Kwanele Sosibo

Kwanele Sosibo studied journalism at Durban's ML Sultan Technikon before working at Independent Newspapers from 2000 to 2003. In 2005, he joined the Mail & Guardian's internship programme and later worked as a reporter at the paper between 2006 and 2008, before working as a researcher. He was the inaugural Eugene Saldanha Fellow in 2011.


The death of Enoch Mpianzi at Parktown Boys is a...

Ignore the language used in brochures and on open days and be vigilant about the details

Study unpacks the ‘hidden racism’ at Stellenbosch

Students say they feel unseen and unheard at the university because of their skin colour

Failure to investigate TRC cases during the Mandela era delayed...

Counsel for late trade unionist Neil Aggett’s family decries the slow pace of instituting an inquest into his death

Courts to guide land expropriation

Two bits of law need to be approved before a court can decide if land owners will be compensated

Press Releases

MTN unveils TikTok bundles

Customised MTN TikTok data bundles are available to all prepaid customers on *136*2#.

Marketers need to reinvent themselves

Marketing is an exciting discipline, offering the perfect fit for individuals who are equally interested in business, human dynamics and strategic thinking. But the...

Upskill yourself to land your dream job in 2020

If you received admission to an IIE Higher Certificate qualification, once you have graduated, you can articulate to an IIE Diploma and then IIE Bachelor's degree at IIE Rosebank College.

South Africans unsure of what to expect in 2020

Almost half (49%) of South Africans, 15 years and older, agree or strongly agree that they view 2020 with optimism.

KZN teacher educators jet off to Columbia University

A group of academics were selected as participants of the programme focused on PhD completion, mobility, supervision capacity development and the generation of high-impact research.

New-style star accretion bursts dazzle astronomers

Associate Professor James O Chibueze and Dr SP van den Heever are part of an international team of astronomers studying the G358-MM1 high-mass protostar.

2020 risk outlook: Use GRC to build resilience

GRC activities can be used profitably to develop an integrated risk picture and response, says ContinuitySA.

MTN voted best mobile network

An independent report found MTN to be the best mobile network in SA in the fourth quarter of 2019.