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Marikana tragedy investigation is a witch-hunt, says Phiyega

The suspended police commissioner said the tragedy is being used against her and others.

FILE. Suspended national police commissioner Riah Phiyega. Picture: Reinart Toerien/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - Suspended National Police Commissioner Riah Phiyega says the Marikana tragedy is being used as a witch-hunt against her and others.

Yesterday, the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) announced in Parliament that a case docket recommending Phiyega be charged, was handed over to the National Prosecutions Authority (NPA) for consideration.

She is also facing an inquiry into her fitness to hold office following recommendations by the Marikana Commission of Inquiry.

At a briefing this afternoon, Phiyega says while investigations are not complete, she's concerned about what she calls the undignified haste to register charges against her.

She also says her rights as a citizen have been violated as she's not been approached by police watchdog Ipid.

Phiyega says since she was suspended in October 2015, there's been an orchestrated agenda against her and she has been harassed and discredited by the court of public opinion.

The suspended police commissioner says she has watched with both disappointment and shock at how it has tried to ruin her credibility and reputation.

She says reports released by the portfolio committee have found her guilty without hearing her side of the story.

Phiyega wants the opportunity to state her case at the inquiry in May, in order to reveal the truth about what happened in Marikana and to clear her name.

She adds she only heard about charges being registered against her by Ipid in the media and feels that the investigation has not yet been completed.

"I will not dictate to Ipid how they should do their job. However, I am saying to you that the timing, the approach and the manner in which this announcement was made… I find it concerning."

At the same time, Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (Popcru) says it does not support any criminal charges against Phiyega.

The union says Phiyega has been unfairly blamed for the 2012 shootings in Marikana and still has to face an inquiry into her fitness to hold office.

Popcru's Richard Mamabolo says, "We have not found any substantial reasons or facts that would actually push that she is suspended or even recent criminal charges. And of course we maintain our stance around that. We are still fully behind her in that regard. With regards to Marikana, we are not convinced."