JOHANNESBURG (AP) — South Africa’s police commissioner is suspended pending an inquiry into alleged misconduct during the police shooting deaths of 34 miners during labor unrest in 2012, the office of President Jacob Zuma said Wednesday.
National Police Commissioner Gen. Riah Phiyega is suspended on full pay, Zuma’s office said in a statement.
“The suspension is to endure pending any decision that is made following upon the recommendations of the Board of Inquiry into allegations of misconduct, her fitness to hold office and her capacity to execute official duties efficiently,” the statement said.
Earlier this year, a report by a government-appointed panel found evidence of poor police planning ahead of the killings near Marikana, and called for further investigation into Phiyega’s conduct.
At least 44 people, including several police and security guards, were killed during a period of unrest at the Lonmin mining company’s platinum mine near Marikana in 2012. They included the 34 strikers who died during a police operation to move a large crowd of protesters on Aug. 16 of that year.
The killings shocked South Africans, reminding some of violent tactics used by security forces during apartheid, the system of white minority rule that ended with all-race elections in 1994.
The main opposition party, the Democratic Alliance, welcomed Phiyega’s suspension, saying she had also failed to address allegations of police brutality as well as South Africa’s high rate of violent crime. Rates of violent crime increased for a third year in a row in South Africa, the police minister, Nkosinathi Nhleko, told parliament last month.
Zuma appointed Lt. Gen. Johannes Khomotso Phahlane, head of police forensic services, as acting national commissioner following Phiyega’s suspension.
CHRISTOPHER TORCHIA, Associated Press
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