Marikana: 'Fall guy' stands his ground

Salmon Vermaak is disappointed the top brass want him as a scapegoat for the shootings.


JOHANNESBURG - Police have refused to comment on the latest testimony to emerge at the Marikana Commission of Inquiry of an alleged plan to blame the killing of 34 mineworkers on senior officer Salmon Vermaak.

The air wing commander yesterday told the commission he was contacted by the police's head of operations, and told he would be apportioned the blame for the August 2012 killings, but said he didn't understand why.

He has also claimed that National Police Commissioner Riah Phiyega as well as the North West Police Commissioner and her deputy all told him to lie in his testimony.

Vermaak said Phiyega and the top brass of the police in the North West told him to mislead the commission about how some of the miners were shot by police.

He said he was told to testify that he had driven the striking miners away from the scene of the first shooting to another koppie where 18 people were killed.

Vermaak said he was disappointed that officials would want him to be the scapegoat for the shootings as he had many years of experience.

The commander will be cross-examined by police lawyers when he takes the stand again this morning.

Phiyega's spokesperson said her office would only comment on the allegations once proceedings at the commission had wrapped up.

Meanwhile, the commission heard on Monday that the commanding officer in Marikana seemed to have "lost control" after two other officers were hacked to death by miners.

Vermaak testified about North West deputy police commissioner William Mpembe's reaction in the days leading up to the deadly shooting.

He said the senior policeman appeared shocked after realising two men had been hacked to death and ran around shouting "my policemen have been killed."