Lonmin employee ordered to apologise

2014-09-15 14:49
(Themba Hadebe, AP)

(Themba Hadebe, AP)

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Pretoria - A senior Lonmin employee had to apologise at the Farlam Commission of Inquiry on Monday for describing Amcu's president as a liar on national radio.

"I withdraw that, and I apologise to Joseph [Mathunjwa]," said Barnard Mokwena, who was Lonmin's executive president of human capital and external affairs at the time of a strike in 2012.

Mokwena called Mathunjwa a liar on SAFM, when they appeared on Xolani Gwala's morning programme on 15 August 2012.

National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) president Senzeni Zokwana also participated in the radio interview.

"You accused him of lying before the South African people. You accused him of twisting the truth," said the commission's chairman, retired Judge Ian Farlam.

Mokwena told the commission: "On [the] Friday, I had two partners who were agreeing with me in principle that this was unprotected.... The three of us would run this interview together and workers should go back to work.

"I walked into the studio with the impression that he would reiterate that position," he said.

Mokwena also accused Mathunjwa of calling the striking workers "sinister forces not to be engaged".

Mokwena claimed to have recorded evidence that the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) had spoken to strikers about wages at a hill near the mine.

However, he had to concede that this was not true.

"I retract that statement," he said.

R12 500 wage demand

Mokwena also told North West police chief General Zukiswa Mbombo that it was Amcu which was making a R12 500 wage demand.

"Are you prepared to retract that as well Mr Mokwena?" asked Farlam.

"Yes, chair," Mokwena said.

He continued: "I had honestly expected us to be a joint force in terms of what was going on. I just felt we were not in sync with Amcu: The way they approached the matter, the way they were discussing the matter with us."

Farlam asked Mokwena if he had wanted Mbombo to arrest strikers and union leaders.

"I had no intention at any stage to get any union leader arrested. I was making an appeal that unless arrests were made, this may continue. I had absolutely no intention to influence her," Mokwena replied.

The commission is investigating the deaths of 44 people during unrest near Lonmin's Marikana mine.

Police opened fire on a group of mostly striking mineworkers, killing 34 of them on 16 August 2012. Around 70 people were injured and more than 200 were arrested. Police claimed they were trying to disperse and disarm them.

Ten people, including two policemen and two Lonmin security guards, were killed in the preceding week.

Read more on:    lonmin  |  amcu  |  num  |  pretoria  |  marikana inquiry  |  media

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