Mpofu asked me to pull strings - Ramaphosa

Pretoria - Dali Mpofu asked Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa to intervene and help him advance his career, the Farlam Commission of Inquiry heard on Tuesday.

"You came to me here yesterday [Monday] and said 'I have been trying to be certified as senior counsel. Is there anything you can do for me?'," Ramaphosa told the commission's public hearings in Pretoria.

Mpofu, who represents wounded and arrested miners at Marikana in August 2012, interrupted: "No, that is untrue. You can't come here and make up stories. Tell the story as it happened, Mr Ramaphosa."

Commission chairperson retired Judge Ian Farlam intervened, allowing Ramaphosa to continue.

"Mr Mpofu and I had a fairly friendly discussion here yesterday. I asked him 'are you now senior counsel?'. He said 'Yes, I am supposed to be senior counsel but what is left is for the president to sign the certificate'. He said 'is there anything you can do for me?'.

"I raised the issue of a conflict of interests with him. I said even if I know that he is opposed to me, he is on another side of the political divide. There is no conflict of interest there, nothing fraudulent or criminal about it," said Ramaphosa.

Mpofu repeatedly interjected, saying Ramaphosa was lying.

"If you can misrepresent something that happened less than 24 hours ago, then one shudders to think how much falsification you can put to events where your integrity and criminality are in question," Mpofu said.

Refuting claims

Farlam said the allegations made by Ramaphosa were outside the inquiry's terms of reference.

Mpofu insisted on refuting the allegations.

"I never said 'is there anything you can do for me?'. He said he would intervene. I did not ask for any favours. He offered that himself, gratuitously. Don't come here and patronise me, I did not ask for any favours."

Mpofu said he pointed out to Ramaphosa several other lawyers were waiting for President Jacob Zuma to sign their appointment as senior counsel.

Ramaphosa said there would be no conflict of interest if he intervened to assist Mpofu, or other lawyers.

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 two Lonmin security guards, were killed.

‘Incestuous relationship’

Earlier, Mpofu submitted that Ramaphosa was caught up in "incestuous relations" with role-players at Marikana in August 2012.

"You had relations with [former police minister] Mr Nathi Mthethwa, you were both in the ANC national executive of the ANC, as well as with [ANC secretary general] Gwede Mantashe," said Mpofu.

"You were a non-executive director of Lonmin. If you look at that web of relationships you will accept that you were caught in a cesspool of incestuous relationships in relation to the [Marikana] players."

Ramaphosa objected.

"Mr Chairperson, I do take exception to a question that seems to suggest that my relation with my organisation, the African National Congress, is incestuous," he said.

"Similarly, Mr Chairperson, I also take exception to a suggestion that my relationship with the secretary general of the ANC, and all the other colleagues, is incestuous."

Mpofu responded: "Yeah, that might well be."

Farlam said "incestuous" was an "unhappy word" which should be withdrawn.

"You should spell out what the nature of the conflict was. Put to the witness clearly what the conflict was. Don't use objectionable adjectives," Farlam said.

Mpofu responded: "I will try and restrain myself."