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'Trust lost in cops after Marikana cover-up'

Police are accused of deliberately withholding information from the Marikana Commission of Inquiry.

Police open fire at protesting workers at the Lonmin mine in Marikana, North West on 16 August, 2012. Picture: Taurai Maduna/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - Democratic Alliance leader Helen Zille says the fact that police may have withheld evidence from the Marikana Commission of Inquiry is one of the most shocking revelations in the new democracy.

It's emerged that a computer hard drive containing evidence from the shooting wasn't handed over in its entirety, fuelling speculation that the police are lying about their version of events.

Zille says she's deeply concerned about the claims.

"What we are seeing here is the police attempting to mislead the commission which amounts to perjury. It really is the very bottom of a dark pit."

Senior researcher at the Institute for Security Studies Johan Burger says this casts a negative light on the police and raises doubts about their version of events.

"The police's image is already in tatters. More and more people are looking at the police as dishonest."

Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa says as far as he knows all evidence should've been handed over.

"We want to get the truth whether it's from the police's side or the strikers."

Citizens4Marikana, a group fighting for the rights of the miners injured and arrested during the shooting, says this shows there's a clear lack of transparency at the inquiry.

The organisation's Erik De Ridder says this is a clear indication of the police's involvement in the events.

"The fact that the police, at the expense of the taxpayer, have for over a year thought it appropriate to withhold evidence. This in our view is a clear indictment of their involvement regarding the events of August 2012. We calling on the presidency to intervene with a decisive and clear solution."

The commission's spokesperson Tshepo Mahlangu said the new information has now been handed in, but evidence leaders still need to go over it.

"We have managed to come across information that we feel the police should've voluntarily given to us and they did not do this."

Investigations are underway to determine what evidence was left out and if it was deleted in order to fabricate a certain version of events.

Meanwhile, the police has responded to the allegations saying it should've been given an opportunity to explain before evidence leaders suggested they deliberately withheld evidence.

SAPS says it has cooperated fully without reservation throughout the hearings and they will provide answers to the concerns that have been raised.

The hearings have been postponed until Wednesday.

The inquiry was set up by President Jacob Zuma after 34 miners were gunned down and 78 others wounded during a standoff with police at Lonmin's Marikana Platinum Mine on 16 August last year.

Ten other people, including two policemen and two security guards, were killed in strike-related violence in the days leading up to the shooting.

Lonmin miners had embarked on an unprotected strike to demand higher wages.

The Marikana standoff has been described as the bloodiest shootout in post-apartheid South Africa.