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24 October 2012 at 12:25 - Posted by Midrand

Phiyega irks families


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National Police Commissioner Riah Phiyega yesterday laughed and joked as grim footage of the killing of 34 miners was screened at the Farlam Commission of Inquiry.

Showing scant regard for the families of those gunned down by her officers, Phiyega joked with a state law adviser as a prelude to the killings was screened at the Rustenburg Civic Centre.

Surrounded by her senior officers, Phiyega smiled as she watched one of the four screens.

It was only after screams of horror echoed across the room, as the footage was played without any warning, that Phiyega's humorous demeanor changed to that of an ice queen, blatantly ignoring wailing families.

With social workers, trauma counsellors, paramedics and religious leaders rushing to help, Phiyega stared straight ahead, ignoring a widow screaming at her for answers about her husband's death.

"Why did they do this? Why did your policemen kill my husband? What did he do?" she screamed, tears streaming down her cheeks as she listened to the echoing sounds of automatic gunfire and a policeman screaming: "I shoot you."

The woman's husband was among the 34 miners killed at Lonmin mine's Wonderkop on August 16.

With elderly men openly weeping as they watched footage of their sons dying and paramedics frantically trying to revive several women who had collapsed, Phiyega ignored the pandemonium that played itself out in front of her.

She was, instead, later seen comforting one of the widows of the two policemen murdered along with eight other people in the days before the bloodbath.

Asked repeatedly for comment as to why, as a mother she had not shown any empathy, tried to comfort the bereaved and what she had been joking about, Phiyega lashed out.

"I am not here for that. I am here for the commission and the commission only," she snapped.

A visibly irate Bishop Joe Seroka - who was active in trying to negotiate a truce between the miners and police in the days leading up to the massacre - slammed Phiyega.

"Her behaviour is disgusting. What she did is unbecoming of a person such as her who purports to be a leader of some kind," he said.

"Her actions were disturbing. People were shaken. She sat there laughing and did nothing. You would expect a sense of remorse and empathy which was nonexistent. She should feel ashamed."

 

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