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Marikana cover-up: Police to respond

It's alleged that police may have deliberately withheld evidence from the Marikana Inquiry.

Retired South African judge, Ian Farlam at the Marikana Commission of Inquiry. Picture: Gia Nicolaides/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - Police are expected to respond today to allegations that they deliberately withheld evidence from the Marikana Commission of Inquiry.

Last week, it emerged that a computer hard drive containing evidence from the shooting wasn't handed over in its entirety, fuelling speculation that the police lied about their version of events.

The commission's spokesperson Tshepo Mahlangu said the commission expects a response today.

"The council for the police will most likely respond to allegations that were put to them by the evidence leading team at the commission."

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

Last week, the South African Police Service said it should've been given an opportunity to explain before evidence leaders suggested they had deliberately withheld evidence.

The hearings are expected to resume today.

LACK OF TRANSPARENCY

When news of the allegations emerged, Democratic Alliance leader Helen Zille said the fact that police may have withheld evidence from the inquiry is one of the most shocking revelations in the new democracy.

"What we are seeing here is 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 said this casted a negative light on the police and raised 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 said 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, said 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 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.