Phiyega to visit communities to heal Marikana rift

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Cape Town – The National Police Commissioner, Riah Phiyega, today said she plans to visit mining communities in a bid to heal the rift caused by the Marikana tragedy.

“When the time is right I wish to engage with communities along the platinum belt in particular with a view to repairing the rift between the police and the communities caused by this tragedy,” she said during her address to the Langa Methodist Church in a service in honour of National Women’s Day, celebrated on Friday.

Phiyega urged all South Africans to pray for those affected by the shooting, ahead of Friday’s one-year anniversary of the tragedy.
“I ask that we pray earnestly as we spare a thought for the families, the friends and the colleagues of the security guards, police officers, workers union officials, workers and innocent bystanders who have lost their lives during this tragedy.

“All 44 deaths were and are tragic. Many of those affected by the tragedy are still grieving. Some are still angry as the results of the deaths and it is to be expected,” said Phiyega.

She said the Marikana tragedy had deeply impacted both the police service and herself. “Just like the police officers on duty that day I am learning to come to terms with it,” she said.

President Jacob Zuma established a Commission of Enquiry to investigate the events in Marikana from 9 - 16 August 2012, which led to the deaths of at least 44 people, more than 70 people being injured and approximately 250 people being arrested.

The commission was supposed to hand over its report to Zuma in February this year - but the deadline has been extended until October.

Turning to the commemoration of Women’s Day, she said women now made up 39% of all members across the police service and were located across the service in areas such as the air wing division, bomb disposal unit and special task force.

She said women were where they were today because of the contribution that women had made in the struggle against apartheid.

“They marched against inhumane pass laws that destroyed families and dignities and the right of their husbands to live in freedom in their own country. The women of 1956 were courageous women of character, of substance,” Phiyega said, alluding to the 1956 women’s march on the Union Buildings in Pretoria.

She said women were “change agents” and world leaders, pointing to the appointment last year of Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma as AU commissioner and Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka’s appointment last month as the executive director of UN Women.

Woman had achieved their freedom, but now faced new challenges, in particular domestic violence.

She said since the Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences unit was set up in 2010, 176 such units, staffed by a total of 2 139 officials including forensic social workers, have been rolled out across the country.

Phiyega said 888 life sentences had been secured in the first two years of the establishment of the unit. –