Cyril Ramaphosa ‘used Nathi Mthethwa to exert political pressure’

2014-07-15 19:00

The chain of political responsibility for the deaths of 34 miners in Marikana in 2012 leads to Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, advocate Dali Mpofu told the Marikana Commission of Inquiry today.

The commission, under the chairmanship of retired judge Ian Farlam, was appointed by the president to look into the events that led to the deaths of approximately 44 miners and others at the Lonmin mine in Marikana in August 2012.

Representing miners who were injured or arrested around that time, Mpofu today argued that Ramaphosa exerted pressure on Nathi Mthethwa [then minister of police], who passed it on to North West Police Commissioner Zukiswa Mbombo.

“We are going to argue that your denial of having exerted any pressure whatsoever cannot be sustained because, among other things, you were the conduit through which the political pressure from Mr Ramaphosa was transmitted to General Mbombo [and] the killers,” Mpofu told Mthethwa.

The former minister of police stood by his testimony that there had never been any political influence. He had never spoken to anyone in connection with any “political pressure”, he said.

Mpofu asked why Mthethwa had not revealed that he had called the police commissioner five minutes after he had a discussion with Ramaphosa and former NUM president Senzeni Zokwana around that time.

“The real reason, I am going to argue, is that you knew the content of those communications was unlawful and constituted political pressure, and that’s why you concealed them deliberately. Do you accept that the telephone calls to the commissioners were interpreted by them as constituting political pressure?” asked Mpofu.

Mthethwa said he had not purposefully omitted the information from his first statement.

“I did not conceal anything. I said it was an oversight. After I saw my records I ... remembered that I had spoken to the provincial commissioner,” said Mthethwa.

“Would it strike you as a coincidence that the provincial police commissioner ... had phone calls with you?” asked Mpofu.

The former minister of police’s forgetfulness played a role here again. He testified that he did not remember being at the SAPS press briefing at which National Police Commissioner Riah Phiyega complimented police officers on their work after the August 16 massacre.

Mthethwa, who was also at the briefing, also congratulated the police.

Yesterday Mthethwa testified that on the morning of the massacre he was not made aware that the police had decided that they would move to the tactical phase 3. However, lawyer Heidi Barnes, representing mineworkers’ union Amcu, argued that Mthethwa’s telephone records showed that Phiyega had left a voice mail message for him that morning.

During her testimony before the commission, Phiyega was asked why she had given two different statements relating to her claim that she had told the minister that the police would be moving to the tactical stage.

The first statement included pages that were out of sequence, and she made no mention of having informed the minister of the plan. The second statement, the pages of which were in sequence, mentioned that she had spoken to the minister on the morning when the police decided to go ahead with the tactical phase.

“We will argue that the national commissioner was prevailed upon to change her statements because [that] remove[d] the reference to yourself,” said Barnes.

“There was no communication between the national commissioner and I about the phases they had decided to take. This is an operational matter. I noticed that the pages are not ... in sequence,” replied Mthethwa.

The former minister of police, who is now minister of arts and culture, was excused, as he had concluded his testimony.

Mpofu said that he would bring an application before the commission requesting the witness known as Mr X – who will resume his testimony on Thursday – to testify openly before the commission and no longer in camera. However, he would not submit the application during commission hours, due to time constraints.

The commission resumes on Thursday.

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