Marikana: Cyril Ramaphosa unmoved by ‘blood on your hands’ heckles

2014-08-11 15:02

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Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa has been heckled at the Marikana commission of inquiry by a group in the public gallery who accused him of having “blood” on his hands.

Ramaphosa, who was accompanied by his wife Tshepo Motsepe, was testifying today regarding email communication between him and Lonmin management in which he called for “concomitant action” against those who had killed and injured mineworkers in August 2012.

Today, exactly two years since Ramaphosa sent the emails to Lonmin management, the former union leader was heckled by a group who started shouting: “Blood on your hands” during his cross-examination by Advocate Thembeka Ngcukaitobi, who is representing the Legal Resources Centre.

Commission chairperson Judge Ian Farlam adjourned the proceedings and left when the group ignored repeated requests to quieten down.

But Ramaphosa seemed unmoved by the singing and the calls for him to resign for allegedly applying political pressure which, the group claimed, led to police opening fire and killing 34 mineworkers in Marikana.

Ramaphosa stood up and had a wry smile while he was continuously heckled by the group, some of whom wore T-shirts with the words “McCyril, the killer”, in reference to his major shareholding in McDonald’s.

In 2011, Cyril Ramaphosa paid for a 20-year master franchise agreement to run all 145 McDonald’s restaurants in South Africa at the time.

Other T-shirts had pictures of a buffalo, referring to the animal for which Ramaphosa unsuccessfully bid R19.5 million one month after the fatal shooting.

Proceedings continued a few minutes later, after Farlam threatened to clear the public gallery if there were any more disruptions.

Ramaphosa is being represented by lawyer David Unterhalter, who had the first chance to question him when proceedings began this morning.

Asked by Unterhalter what he meant by “concomitant action” that needed to be taken when he sent an email to Lonmin management a few weeks before the August 16 shooting, Ramaphosa said he had found the deaths “shocking” and merely wanted police to arrest the perpetrators.

He denied that he had applied any political pressure on the former police minister, Nathi Mthethwa, and then mineral resources minister, Susan Shabangu.

“People were being killed and injured and I concluded that this was now a grave situation of criminality. I said to the minister (Mthethwa) that the situation was getting more and more violent and I’d expected that those responsible would have been identified and arrested.

“It occurred to me that where these incidents (of killings) occurred, police presence was either absent or minimal,” said Ramaphosa.

He said he had acted in his capacity as a Lonmin director, and he had been asked to get in touch with Mthethwa regarding the situation in Marikana.

Mthethwa responded to his concerns by assuring him that he was aware of the situation, Ramaphosa said.

Ramaphosa was asked about an article he wrote in 2011 in which he blamed mining companies for the ongoing strikes in the sector and the fact that the companies had failed to improve the lives of mineworkers and mining communities.

Ramaphosa, who joined Lonmin in 2010 as a shareholder, was asked by Ngcukaitobi whether he was aware that Lonmin had only built three of the 5 500 houses for mineworkers in the five years prior to him joining the company.

“I did not know. They (Lonmin) did not tell me,” said Ramaphosa.

He had told the commission that the reasons Lonmin gave for the nondelivery of the houses was the lack of land from the local municipality, low uptake of the housing scheme by mineworkers and lack of funding.

Ngcukaitobi pointed out to Ramaphosa that Lonmin increased its profits but failed to deliver even though the land had been made available in 2009.

Ramaphosa said he had told Lonmin management to consider other housing options, such as rental stock, since the housing scheme had failed.

He said he was not aware how much money Lonmin had but added that when Lonmin introduced a “living out” allowance to replace the scheme, many mineworkers took the money and went back to the “horrible” living conditions at hostels.

The hearing continues.

Marikana Commission of Inquiry Affidavit of Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa

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