MOGWASE – The defense in the trial of a former senior North West police officer accused of several deaths in the lead-up to the Marikana massacre in 2012 on Monday accused the State of withholding documents.
Former North West deputy police commissioner William Mpembe and his three co-accused appeared in the North West High Court on charges of contravening the Commission Act, contravening the Independent Police Investigative Directorate Act and defeating the ends of justice.
They allegedly failed to disclosed that mineworker Modisaotsile van Wyk Sagalala died in police custody on the premises of the Lonmin mine on August 16, 2012.
Advocate Jan Ellis, for Mpembe, launched an application in the court asking that the State disclose the contents of two dockets related to the case.
He told the court that he did not buy the State’s contention that the two dockets were under investigation.
"I do not understand how these cases are still under investigation since 2012," he said.
He wanted the contents of the dockets relating to two crime scenes emanating from the Marikana massacre in which 34 mineworkers were killed by police during violent protest action on August 16, 2012.
Scene one was at a koppie near Nkaneng informal settlement where striking mineworkers were shot, while scene two is a small koppie about 150m away from the infamous Marikana koppie where other mineworkers were killed.
Ellis also wanted certified copies of the diaries of one police officer, the names of paramedics who had helped the injured mineworkers and the names of mortuary workers who assisted to transport the deceased mineworkers from the scene.
However, prosecutor Jacob Tloubatla said the two dockets the defence requested were not relevant to the case they were on trial for.
Mpembe faces charges of contravention of the Commission Act, contravention of the Independent Police Investigative Directorate Act and defeating the ends of justice.
He is charged along with Gideon van Zyl, Dingaan Madoda and Oupa Pule.
Van Zyl, Madoda and Pule are accused of defeating the ends of justice and contravention of the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) Act.
According to information before court, 30 mineworkers died at the two scenes after they were shot by the police on August 16, 2012 while four others later died in hospital.
Tloubatla said Mpembe and his co-accused were in court for defeating the ends of justice and lying about the death of Sagalala
"That person [Sagalala] did not die at scene one or scene two, he died while in police custody at Lonmin premises."
He explained that police concealed Sagalala’s death and it was only after IPID, the police watchdog, discovered that he died in custody that a docket was opened in February, 2017.
Tloubatla showed the court the case docket into Sagalala’s death reflecting its contents and said this was all disclosed to the defence.
Judge Ronnie Hendrick postponed proceedings to Tuesday to enable the defence and the State to sit down and resolve their differences on the dockets.
Mpembe is involved in at least two other cases before the court involving the murders of mineworkers during a protracted strike at the Lonmin platinum mine.