The arrest of a group of people suspected of being involved the shooting of 11 people in the Marikana settlement in Philippi, which was highly publicised by Police Minister Fikile Mbalula, has turned out to be a dud.
Ten people, eight of whom were pictured lying handcuffed on the road on Mbalula’s Twitter account, have been released.
Another five suspects, also alleged to have been involved in crime in the Marikana area, were also released, police have told News24.
“Be advised, it is not uncommon for figures of suspects questioned to change as an investigation progresses, especially when dealing with a massive investigation such as the Marikana murders,” Brigadier Novela Potelwa said on Friday.
“Indeed, at some point last week, five suspects were in custody as part of ongoing investigations into the Marikana murder cases. After being questioned and an identity parade done by detectives, all five suspects were since released.
“On Friday [last week], 10 suspects were taken in [for] questioning. They have since been released.”
“Detectives are still hard at work, pursuing leads that could result in the arrest of more perpetrators of the Marikana murders,” said Potelwa.
The Times reported on Friday that six of the 10 suspects arrested last Friday were members of a family transporting the remains of a relative to the Eastern Cape. They were also reportedly made to wait on the ground for three hours, waiting for Mbalula to arrive.
The coffin was reportedly searched and one of the men was stripped and checked if he was uncircumcised.
Several other arrests have been made in connection with the incident in Marikana – however, the outcome of those could still not be confirmed.
Mbalula’s spokesperson Vuyo Mhaga defended the press releases on the arrests, saying: “The minister can’t be disappointed if people were called into question.”
On September 29, 11 people were killed in shootings that started at a bar in the Rolihlahla part of the Marikana informal settlement.
Since then, a high-level investigative team has been established, extra police officers have been brought in, and Mbalula, due in the area again on Friday, has announced that the SA National Defence Force will be deployed in some areas.[Source: News24]