Marikana: ANC clashes

2012-09-01 18:38

Party’s treasurer lashes out at NPA as Zuma refuses to release 269 miners

Tension over the National Prosecuting Authority’s (NPA’s) decision to charge 269 Marikana miners with murder is leading to a possible clash within the ANC.

Yesterday, ANC treasurer-general Mathews Phosa, who is believed to oppose President Jacob Zuma’s bid for a second term as party president, became the first of the ANC’s top-six officials to openly criticise the NPA’s
decision, ominously warning that it could lead to “another Marikana”.

At the same time, Zuma refused to release the prisoners today, as requested by their legal team. Zuma said he would not interfere in the NPA’s work.

Phosa’s criticism of the charges follows that of Justice Minister Jeff Radebe and ANC chief whip Mathole Motshekga.

The NPA’s top bosses met behind closed doors yesterday and it was rumoured that the murder charges could be dropped as early as tomorrow.

All 269 miners were charged with 34 counts of murder this week under the “common purpose” doctrine, which was frequently used by the apartheid state.

Speaking at an ANC centenary torch handover function yesterday in Hartswater, Northern Cape, Phosa slammed the charges as reckless.

“Charging some of (the miners) in the face of a commission of inquiry is contrary to the sub judice rule, reckless, incongruous and almost absurd,” he said.

Charging miners with murdering their own colleagues could have consequences “too ghastly to contemplate”, Phosa warned. “We don’t need another Marikana. We need cool heads to prevail,” he said.

Police fired at striking Lonmin workers two weeks ago, killing 34 and wounding 78.

Phosa said the ANC was celebrating its 100th birthday at a time when its leadership is “substantially tested by
socioeconomic realities”.

According to Phosa, the Marikana saga posed a big question for the ANC’s leadership: “Why have the workers lost faith in the legitimate authorities?”

He is politically linked to a group within the ANC that wants Zuma replaced by his deputy Kgalema Motlanthe in
December, and his views could be seen as an attack on Zuma’s leadership.

Phosa also took a swipe at Zuma for militarising the police, saying the country had to “urgently move more and more to civilian control of the police service, as it was envisaged at Codesa”.

Late yesterday, lawyers representing the 269 miners were preparing an urgent court application.

Advocate Lesego Mmusi, who is part of the team, told City Press they were drafting papers to be served on Zuma and will file an urgent application with the North Gauteng High Court tomorrow.

Zuma’s spokesperson Mac Maharaj issued a statement saying the president “cannot accede to the demand”. He said he will wait for the Farlam commission of inquiry’s recommendations.

The man who decided to charge the men with murder spoke out for the first time yesterday.

Advocate Johan Smit the director of public prosecutions (DPP) in North West, told City Press a “prima facie” case existed to charge each miner with common-purpose murder.

But he said the NPA may consider individual prosecutions of each of the 269 accused and it might not oppose bail when the case resumes on Thursday.

Smit vehemently denied suggestions of a sinister motive behind the charges, adding that the NPA may change its mind depending on the investigation’s outcome.

“If we proceed to oppose bail, we will surely have to produce evidence linking the accused to the crime. I’m not doing anything strange here. Any other DPP would have taken the same decision,” said Smit.

Depending on what police uncover, the NPA’s “attitude” on opposing bail and the murder charges may change.

“A lot of things can happen between now and then, but I can’t say what will happen,” said Smit, before he had a telephone conference with acting NPA head Nomgcobo Jiba about the case.

Jiba can review Smit’s decision and must report back to Radebe this week.

Radebe said the NPA’s decision had induced “a sense of shock, panic and confusion” among South Africans. He was backed by Motshekga, who said “we are all surprised and confused by the NPA’s legal strategy”.

Phosa’s view was backed by Congress of the People leader Mosiuoa Lekota who, in an interview with City Press, accused Zuma’s administration of the police’s harsh actions.

“When Mandela became president, the police force changed into a service. It remained a service throughout Thabo Mbeki’s two terms. Then Zuma comes in and tells the nation that the police should become a force,” Lekota said.

An ANC national executive committee (NEC) member who supports Zuma said there was growing unhappiness among NEC members about the murder charges.

But he slammed Phosa, saying: “If all of us (NEC members) go out and say our views it will be a disaster. We must close ranks, that’s why political organisations like us exist. I also have my own views, but I have to protect the organisation.”

Yesterday, Julius Malema’s Friends of the Youth League also asked for the miners’ immediate release.

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