_: The Portfolio Committee on Police has expressed its deep shock and sadness at the dramatic events that took place yesterday at Lonmin mine, Marikana.
The loss of life, both of members of the South African Police Service (SAPS) as well as workers of the Lonmin mine is distressing. The Committee expresses its most sincere condolences and deepest sympathy to the families who have lost loved ones in the tragic incident.
The Committee strongly supports the request by Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa extended to President Jacob Zuma to institute an urgent Commission of Inquiry into the incident. Acting Chairperson, Ms Annelize van Wyk stated that the Committee would urge the Minister to further request that the President extends the scope of the inquiry to also investigate the developments over the past eight months at the mine.
Ms Van Wyk said that it was too early to place blame at the feet of any party. “Playing any form of blame game at this stage would be irresponsible and insensitive. We need to have all facts before we pass judgment. We call on all commentators to respond in a sensitive and responsible manner and to refrain from making statements that can further entice violence and endanger more lives”.
Last year, the Committee received a briefing on Public Order Policing from the SAPS. On Tuesday, 14 August 2012, the Committee took a decision that the SAPS must be recalled to appear before it on the same issue.
This was in part due to the violent nature of protest at the mine at that stage as well as the increased violent nature of service delivery protests throughout the country. In light of the recent events at Lonmin mine, the meeting will be prioritised to an earlier date.
Ms Van Wyk said while the Committee acknowledged the right of people to strike and protest as part of their constitutional right, it must be remembered that any right came with its own set of responsibilities. This includes the need for conduct to be within the constraints of the law.
“In terms of the police’s role, we need to look at the training of police members, relevant equipment in relation to the level of violence they are confronted with, the role of our intelligence sources in gathering and analysing information in time to prevent the development of protests to the level of violence we have seen,” she added.