Why I had to intervene: Ramaphosa

By Drum Digital
11 August 2014

"I realised we were dealing with people who were bent on killing others in the most criminal way." - Ramaphosa

Deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa has told the Marikana Commission that when he called government minister about the situation in Marikana, he didn’t suggest what action they should take.

Ramaphosa took the stand today to explain his emails to the management of Lonim and his attempt to get both the ministers of police and mineral resources to intervene in Marikana,  a few days before the shooting that claimed the lives 34 lives nearly two years ago.

His email to Lonmin chief commercial officer Albert Jamieson, written the day before the shooting of the workers by the police in Marikana said: “The terrible events that have unfolded cannot be described as a labour dispute. They are plainly dastardly criminal and must be characterized as such. In line with this characterization there needs to be concomitant action to address this situation.”

The comments have been widely interpreted by Ramaphosa’s detractors as a call on the police to kill the striking workers, who had downed tools because Lonmin refused to accede to their demands for a wage increase to R12 500 per month.

Under cross-examination by his lawyer, Advocate David Unterhalter, SC, Ramphosa said his call for “concomitant action” meant the police should take action to stop the killings that were continuing during the strike.

“I viewed it as criminal acts that people were getting killed. I realised we were dealing with people who were bent on killing others in the most criminal way. I was shocked that people were getting killed in such a brutal way,” he said.

He also explained his meeting with then Mineral Resources Minister Susan Shabangu in Cape Town, whom he later said had conveyed the need to act to President Jacob Zuma and his cabinet.

Under cross-examination by evidence leader Advocate Geoff Budlender, SC, Ramaphosa conceded that Lonmin’s precondition that it would negotiate with the National Union of Metalworkers was an “empty promise”. This is because the workers had lost confidence in the union.

By Sabelo Ndlangisa

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