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Judge broadens scope of Phiyega inquiry, first witness to testify

Yesterday Judge Neels Claassen ruled in favour of evidence leaders to allow new witnesses to testify.

FILE: Suspended National Police Commissioner Riah Phiyega held a briefing in Sandton while investigations into her involvement in the fatal Marikana shootings which led to the death of over 30 miners. Picture: Reinart Toerien/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - Judge Neels Claassen has widened the scope in Riah Phiyega's inquiry, to include evidence beyond the Farlam Commission.

The Claasen Board of Inquiry into the suspended national police commissioner's fitness to hold office kicked off yesterday, allowing new witnesses to testify.

It will establish whether Phiyega and her senior police managers misled the Farlam Commission in a bid to conceal their actions surrounding the Marikana massacre in 2012.

Marikana miners affected by the mass shooting in 2012 believe Phiyega still has a case to answer to.

Phiyega's legal team argued that only evidence she's already presented during the Farlam Commission can be scrutinised during this inquiry.

But Judge Claassen ruled in favour of the evidence leaders.

"It would be absurd to suggest that in this particular inquiry, the evidence leaders would not be entitled to more witnesses."

Phiyega will also have to answer to new evidence, including her written explanation to President Jacob Zuma about why she shouldn't be suspended over her conduct.

The first witness will be called to the stand today.

At least 14 witnesses are expected to testify over the next five weeks.

Meanwhile, Phiyega's legal team has urged the Claassen Board of Inquiry to avoid delays and postponements to ensure the disciplinary process goes ahead smoothly.

Her legal representative William Mokhari expressed his disappointment when the evidence leaders couldn't proceed with their first witness yesterday afternoon.

"The evidence leaders should ensure that of the 14 witnesses they have, this inquiry will not stop at any moment. If one is not available, they need to have another one available."