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We all failed Marikana miners - Ramaphosa

2014-08-12 12:26

Pretoria - Different parties should take the blame for the August 2012 Marikana tragedy, Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa told the Farlam Commission of Inquiry on Tuesday.

"The tragedy has to be approached as a collective failure by many role players. I don't think that many can say they do not bear any form of responsibility," he told the commission's public hearings in Pretoria.

Ramaphosa was being cross-examined by Dali Mpofu, for the wounded and arrested Marikana miners.

Ramaphosa was a non-executive director and shareholder of Lonmin at the time.

'We failed the people of Marikana'

"The responsibility has to be collective. As a nation, we should dip our heads and accept that we failed the people of Marikana, particularly the families, the workers, and those that died," he said.

The commission, chaired by retired judge Ian Farlam, 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 two Lonmin security guards, were killed.

Responsibilities

Mpofu said Ramaphosa's responsibilities at Marikana went beyond fiduciary duties as a non-executive director of Lonmin.

"Of the parties you say should share the responsibility, you were associated with [the] Lonmin board and management, you were a shareholder, the SA Police Service, the government," said Mpofu.

Ramaphosa said he was not in government (at the time).

Mpofu retorted: "You were not in government but you were exchanging telephone calls with people in government.

"You were a senior member of the ANC [African National Congress]".

Mpofu suggested Ramaphosa was criminally liable for the Marikana events.

Intervene

Earlier, Ramaphosa was asked during cross-examination why he did not intervene and initiate negotiations with striking Marikana miners in 2012.

"Nothing was happening, as far as the wage dispute was concerned. Why did you not establish that nothing was being done?" asked Heidi Barnes, for the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union.

He replied: "We had people that were dealing with the matter at the level where everything was happening.

"I can concede that meeting should have happened, negotiations should have ensued at an early [stage] before everything escalated into violence".

Barnes said Ramaphosa should have intervened.

"You didn't even ask, because you would have been told that nothing was happening in relation to the wage dispute. If you had asked, you would have said it was unacceptable," she said.

Ramaphosa disagreed.

"We got reports from where everything was happening. Our representative, Ms Ncube, was dealing with the matter. I did not have the information on an ongoing basis."

Violence

Barnes asked Ramaphosa to explain why he expended a great deal of energy on lobbying to have the preceding violence characterised as criminal and to increase police presence, yet "did not take a single step to find out what was going on with regards to the wage dispute".

Ramaphosa said the incidents were an emergency which required attention after being stabilised initially.

"I was being given information of people dying and being killed. That is what I responded to, immediately. The stabilisation, in my view, would lead to negotiations to bring the solution," he said.

Ramaphosa said striking employees should not attack non-protesting colleagues.

Security was again tightened considerably on the second day of Ramaphosa's testimony.

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