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Security tightened as Ramaphosa testifies

2014-08-11 10:53

Pretoria - Security was significantly heightened at the Farlam Commission of Inquiry on Monday ahead of Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa's testimony.

- Follow the LIVE UPDATE.

A police water canon, several Nyalas, and rolls of barbed wire, were stationed in the Tshwane council premises where the inquiry holds public hearings in Pretoria.

Numerous police and presidential protection service vehicles were also at the venue. Some police vehicles were parked on Rabie Street outside the venue.

The number of news crews had also swelled significantly, compared to previous days.

Ramaphosa started testifying shortly after 09:00.

Political pressure

The commission is investigating the deaths of 44 people during strike-related violence at Lonmin's platinum mining operations at Marikana, near Rustenburg in the North West in August 2012.

Thirty-four people, mostly striking mineworkers, were shot dead in a clash with police, over 70 were wounded, and over 250 arrested on 16 August 2012. Police were apparently trying to disarm and disperse them.

In the preceding week, 10 people, including two policemen and the two Lonmin security guards, were killed.

Dali Mpofu, for the wounded and arrested mineworkers, said during the public hearings in July that Ramaphosa, a Lonmin shareholder, used former police minister Nathi Mthethwa to exert political pressure on police to act against the protesting Marikana miners.

"You were the intermediary, the conduit, through which the pressure Mr Ramaphosa refers to was conveyed to the senior management of police and ultimately to the officers who killed people," Mpofu said while cross-examining Mthethwa at the inquiry at the time.

He read out an e-mail penned by Ramaphosa, as a Lonmin shareholder, to fellow board members: "I have just had a discussion with Susan Shabangu [then minister of mineral resources]. She agrees that [what] we are going through is not a labour dispute but a criminal act.

"She will correct her characterisation of what we are experiencing. She is going into cabinet and will brief the president as well and get police minister Nathi Mthethwa to act in a pointed way. Let us [apply] the pressure on them to act correctly."

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