Ramaphosa Marikana apology 'opportunistic'

2017-05-08 16:15
Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa. (Lizeka Tandwa, News24)

Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa. (Lizeka Tandwa, News24)

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Ramaphosa apologises for role in Marikana massacre

2017-05-08 09:42

Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa has apologised for the manner in which the Marikana massacre unfoldedWATCH

Johannesburg - Survivors of the Marikana massacre have rejected Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa's apology for calling for "concomitant action" days before 34 miners were shot dead by police.

Attorney Andries Nkome who represents the arrested and wounded miners, said the apology which was issued nearly five years later was "contemptuous and opportunistic".

Ramaphosa apologised for a series of nine emails which he wrote to other Lonmin executives and government ministers in the days leading to the tragedy.

He was non-executive director at Lonmin's platinum mines at the time.

On Sunday, he explained to students at Rhodes University that at the time of the emails some of the workers had been hacked to death, their eyes had been ripped out and their hearts torn out.

Apology timing

This, he said had horrified him.

"My role was to stop further deaths from happening. Yes, I may have used unfortunate language in the messages I sent out and for which I have apologise and for which I do apologise," Ramaphosa said.

But Nkome questioned the timing of the apology which he said was only made through the media and not to the affected miners and their families.

He said Ramaphosa should have apologised immediately after the incident in 2012.

"It is contemptuous, it is opportunistic. Our clients don't know the reasons why the deputy president has not apologised before the Farlam Commission, or any other time but waited five years later," Nkome told News24.

He also said Ramaphosa was "unfortunately apologising only for his utterances and not the cause of his utterances".

His utterances resulted in untold deaths and injuries, Nkome said.

Nkome said his "apology" justifies their clients' demands that the findings of the Farlam Commission should be reviewed as the commission did not consider Ramaphosa's account.

Commemoration

Email correspondence between Ramaphosa and Lonmin executives indicated that he had asked the then ministers of police Nathi Mthethwa and minerals and resources Susan Shabangu to intervene.

Meanwhile, Bishop Johannes Seoka has dared Ramaphosa to apologise in person to the survivors and their relatives on August 16 during the fifth commemoration of the massacre.

"My own suggestion is he should dare to go to Marikana on the day of commemoration and stand on that platform and in the midst of those multitudes of people and say I made a mistake and I apologise," Seoka told News24.

The 2012 wild-cat strike in the North West platinum belt was over the miners demanding a salary hike of R12 500.

A year after the tragedy, the African National Congress and government pulled out from the commemoration which was largely attended by opposition parties and Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU).

Seoka said while Ramaphosa had left it five years too late, "it was ever too late to do the right thing".

He however, said Ramaphosa's apology was "very nebulous" and he should explain what he means when he says he will apologise.

Seoka also warned that he should not just do it to gain support for his presidential ambitions in the ANC.

"This is what I say he should not do it to impress people to support his campaign but be honest about it. Begin to talk to people who would help him to engage with the workers and communities around Marikana."

Compensation

Ramaphosa is seen as a front runner for the ANC top post, pitted against NEC member Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.

Seoka, who has been an activist for Marikana victims, said Ramaphosa should also go beyond an apology, suggesting that he could financially contribute to improve the welfare of the widows.

"He is a billionaire; he can use his foundation and he can persuade the government on compensation that they keep talking about and doing nothing," Seoka said.

At the time, Ramaphosa's company Shanduka Holdings contributed R2m toward the funerals of the miners.

Nkome told News24 that none of the mine workers have been formally approached by the government with a compensation offer despite the state saying in March already that it had set aside R1.17bn aside.

"We have had discussions with government; our doctors are attending to clients who are quantifying their claims but there is yet to be any compensation made to any of our clients.

"We had expected that come this time the state would have made sure that process is expedited and compensation is made, but there has not been many," Nkome said.

Read more on:    anc  |  cyril rama­phosa  |  johannesburg  |  politics  |  marikana massacre

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