Seoka calls for monument
ANGLICAN Bishop Johannes Seoka this week ended his testimony at the Farlam commission of inquiry by calling for the scene of the Marikana massacre to be declared a national monument.
But the vocal man of the cloth relented slightly from his firm stance that the country's police could not be trusted.
In a stunning claim that has since rattled legal representatives of the police, Seoka told the commission that in his 40 years of service to the church, he had come to the realisation that members of the SAPS could not be trusted.
This comment saw the bishop having to answer some tough questions from SAPS legal counsel Ishmael Semenya SC, as well as Louis Gumbi, acting on behalf of police union Popcru.
Semenya invited Seoka to retract his statement but the bishop refused, triggering an unpleasant exchange between the two men.
Semenya, reacting to his unsuccessful attempt to force the bishop to withdraw the comment directed at the police, said the bishop's comment could explain why the police's conflict resolution efforts were often frustrated.
Gumbi also seemed to take issue with the bishop's utterance. He asked Seoka whether he was aware that more than 690 police officers had been killed on duty between 2005 and this year.
Seoka said he was "ignorant" of this fact while also acknowledging that a number of his congregants were widowed or orphaned following the deaths of their police officer husbands, fathers and mothers.
But the bishop maintained his views were his own.
"I spoke for myself. I was not representative of anybody (else)," he said.
Gumbi also suggested that the bishop's comments dealt a blow to police efforts to fight crime.
He asked: "Don't you think your comment, last week, is a major setback in the fight against crime?"
The bishop rejected this, saying: "I don't think so. I don't see how that could contribute to the high crime rate."
Seoka again rejected calls for him to retract his statement, despite pleas from Gumbi that among the 10 people who died between August 9 and 15, two were Popcru members.
"If those were your members, which I was not aware of, I would apologise but I can't retract my statement," said the bishop.