Marikana Commission's rush to complete evidence of deep concern - SAHRC

Commission objects to only being given an hour to cross examine Captain Paul Bismarck Loest


The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) is deeply concerned at the sudden rush to complete oral evidence in the Farlam Commission of Inquiry headed by retired Judge Ian Farlam.

Captain Paul Bismarck Loest is a vital witness for this Commission, given that he was the Commander of the Tactical Response Team line which is alleged to have killed 17 people.

To start and complete his evidence in one day undermines the credibility of the Commission process. The SAHRC made an application to cross examine Capt Loest for 2-and-half hours, but were permitted only 1 hour cross-examination.

The consequence is that there are a number of vital matters on which Capt Loest will not be cross-examined and his evidence will not be tested.

The Commission and public at large must be under no illusion that there are consequences to this apparent race to the end and the SAHRC has lodged a formal objection to the rushed manner in which the Commission is now being run.

Moreover, the SAHRC remain deeply concerned about the deletion of paragraph 1.5 from the Marikana Commission of Inquiry's Terms of Reference. The President's decision to remove government responsibility from the scope of the Commission's investigation in Phase Two is a retrograde step.

While it is unlikely to have been the President's intention, the recent amendment to the Terms of Reference has the appearance of an attempt to immunize government from the Commission's findings. That appearance is regrettable.

Accordingly, while we welcome the proposed rulings of the Marikana Inquiry to adopt more efficient procedures to speed up its process, and provide value for money, we believe the Inquiry must be allowed to complete its work properly.

For that reason, the SAHRC has written a letter to the Presidency calling for the Inquiry to be granted a further extension of time beyond July 2014.

The SAHRC has also asked the Presidency to reconsider its amendment to the Commission's Terms of Reference. While the deletion of paragraph 1.5 was likely motivated by a desire to complete the work of the Commission by the end of July, its effect is to grant immunity to government from investigation by the Commission, in Phase Two.

Statement issued by Isaac Mangena, Head: SAHRC Communications, May 14 2014

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