Mthethwa insists he was not under political pressure

By Drum Digital
15 July 2014

The Marikana killings were likened to the Langa and Bisho massacres and considered the country’s second biggest after the 1961 Sharpville massacre.

Former police minister Nathi Mthethwa has stuck to his version that he never came under political pressure to act against striking Lonmin miners in the build up to the Marikana tragedy in 2012.

Mthethwa, who is now the arts and culture minister, repeatedly denied that he had communicated to the North West police commissioner Zukiswa Mbombo that then businessman Cyril Ramaphosa and the unionist Senzeni Zokwana had put him under pressure.

Mbonmbo told  the commission a few months ago that she felt there was pressure being exerted on the police to act.

However, Mthethwa emphasized that he took calls from citizens from all walks of life and never felt unduly pressured.

He said as the minister he would have been “derelict” if he had failed to act, but would not have gotten involved on operational issues like deciding how many officers should have been on the ground.

Advocate Dali Mpofu referred to an email  Ramaphosa wrote to Lonmin officials at the time saying “let us keep the pressure on them (government) to act correctly”, suggesting that this was  evidence of political pressure being brought to bear. However, Mthethwa stuck to his version that there was no pressure.

Earlier, Advocate Dumisa Ntsebeza likened the Marikana killings to the Langa and Bisho massacres, and said the Marikana killings were the country’s second biggest after the 1961 Sharpville massacre.

Mthethwa conceded that killings could not be justified, but suggested that the difference between that time and now was that then “there was no attempt to deal with those things the way this one is being dealt with”.

He repeated his point that something like the Marikana killings should not happen in a democracy.

“In fact I am on record as calling on the public to dialogue the national discourse in South Africa Without dealing with the violent nature of the national discourse in our country…that everything people want, they still feel they need to be violent,” Mthethwa said, emphasizing that he was not just referring to Marikana only.

He said he was hoping the commission would help put the country on a “pedestal” where such a culture no longer prevails.

By Sabelo Ndlangisa

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