/ 4 February 2016

IPID won’t prosecute police for Marikana massacre

The IPID has recommended charges of defeating the ends of justice against senior members
The IPID has recommended charges of defeating the ends of justice against senior members

More than three years after starting investigations into the Marikana Massacre, independent police investigators can still not find a single police member liable for the mass killing.

The Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) this week told Parliament that it would recommend charges of defeating the ends of justice against senior members, including suspended national police commissioner Riah Phiyega.

The unit started their investigation two months after the massacre but brought it to a halt after the Farlam commission was convened. Nine months ago it resumed its work and, with a budget of R5-million and a team of 22 investigators, has now told Parliament it still does not have enough evidence to make formal charge and arrest any police officers.

Phiyega, her former North West counterpart Zukiswa Mbombo, General Ganasen Naidoo and Brigadier Ledile Malahlela may yet face charges of defeating the ends of justice – but the IPID told the Mail & Guardian this week that no formal charges have been laid against any officers yet.

“There are no arrest to be effected anytime soon as our investigations are still under way and none of the mentioned people have been approached because there are no formal charges as yet, “ said the IPID spokesperson Robbie Raburabu.

“All that has been hinted in the report are just recommendations but not charges.”

In the case of Naidoo, the recommendation for charges by the IPID stems from his failure to exercise command and control at scene two, where 17 miners were gunned down as they hid behind rocks and bushes. 

According to the report Naidoo only handed in his firearm for ballistic testing at a much later stage. Even with this evidence the IPID still has not formally charged Naidoo.

Meanwhile on Wednesday Phiyega convened a press conference at which she said the IPID recommendations were all a ploy to discredit her.  She would not be drawn on the veracity of claims that she had attempted to hide information from the Marikana Commission, or whether that would constitute an offence on which she could face charges.

Though the IPID has been lauded for its investigation into Phiyega and the other three officers, human rights lawyer George Bizos has questioned what happened to the Farlam commission recommendation that another 100 officers be investigated. “We are concerned about the delays and that appropriate steps have not been taken as a matter of urgency,” Bizos said.

He and his team had produced evidence before the commission showing senior officers were responsible for the massacre and argued for their prosecution.

Israel Kgamanyane, the acting head of the directorate, on Tuesday presented a progress report on the Marikana investigation to Parliament. 

On the basis of an analysis of video footage from Marikana, investigators said the “shooting at incident one started unprovoked”.

Raburabu stressed that this was the scene on August 13 2012 where officers and miners were killed. From their analysis, the police were not provoked.

“This is not a finding as yet but an analysis flowing from an investigation, and hence no officers can be criminally charged yet.”

 While investigations into police conduct drag on, 17 mine workers charged with murder in the run-up to the Marikana massacre will be appearing in the North West High Court on April 18 after their lawyers were handed a 1 500 page indictment in December.

“The state wants all the miners to be charged with murder while none of the police officers have been brought to book,” said the miner’s lawyer, Andries Nkome. “The people who should be charged with murder are the people who pulled the trigger and the politicians involved, including Cyril Ramaphosa, Susan Shabangu and Nathi Mthethwa.”

He added that the IPID claimed it had started with the investigation into the incidents before the Farlam commission started in October 2012.

“But if that was the case they should be able to charge more people by now. By this time we know who shot whom. So when we go back to court we are going to ask the director of prosecutions to withdraw the charges against our clients,” he said.

The director of the acclaimed documentary Miners Shot Down, Rehad Desai, said there were double standards at work in prosecuting Marikana crimes. 

“This progress report by the IPID doesn’t say much, especially in light of the fact that it was recommended that police officers should be investigated for their role in the massacre. There is no mention of this anywhere in the report,” he said.

Desai added that Phiyega being a made scapegoat was wrong and laughable. He cited her testimony before the commission as evidence that she was concealing information and protecting her political superiors.

“By now the IPID should have found that she and other officers should be charged with more than just defeating the ends of justice but also murder,” he added.