Nothing wrong with Ramaphosa’s Marikana calls – lawyer

2014-11-13 14:12

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Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa did nothing wrong when he phoned former police minister Nathi Mthethwa and urged him to increase the police intervention at Marikana in August 2012, the Farlam Commission of Inquiry has heard.

“Our learned friends [lawyers for] the families sought to make a big issue from the fact that Minister Mthethwa was called by Mr Ramaphosa and Mr [Former National Union of Mineworkers president Senzeni] Zokwana on August 12 2012,” Lindi Nkosi-Thomas SC, for Mthethwa, said today in her closing arguments.

“They sought to interpret [the phone calls] as political interference. There is absolutely nothing wrong with Mr Ramaphosa calling the minister of police and saying ‘intervene because acts of criminality are taking place’.”

She said Mthethwa subsequently contacted top police officials and urged them to act, and that this was also above board.

“Can it be said that the minister overstepped the bright line between meddling and oversight? There is no evidence that suggests that such a line was breached,” said Nkosi-Thomas.

Mthethwa was simply exercising his oversight role over the police and did not interfere with operational matters.

In July, Dali Mpofu, for the arrested and wounded miners, contended that Ramaphosa had used Mthethwa to exert political pressure on the police to act against protesting Marikana miners.

He was cross-examining Mthethwa at the inquiry at the time.

Mthethwa testified that people, including Ramaphosa and Zokwana, phoned him, “raising concern about what was happening at Marikana”.

Ramaphosa was a nonexecutive director of Lonmin at the time.

He said the phone calls from Ramaphosa and Zokwana were on August 12 2012.

Mpofu submitted that the discussions between Ramaphosa, Mthethwa and North West police chief Lieutenant General Zukiswa Mbombo were illegal and against the constitutional framework.

However, Mthethwa said Mpofu’s assertions were a figment of his imagination.

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

Thirty-four people, mostly striking mineworkers, were shot dead in a clash with police, more than 70 were wounded, and another 250 were arrested on August 16 2012.

Police were apparently trying to disarm and disperse them.

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

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