Marikana mineworkers don’t trust Zuma - Mpofu

2015-06-08 14:23

Pretoria - Mineworkers and their families do not trust President Jacob Zuma's promise to give them the Marikana report into the deaths of 44 people during a platinum miners’ strike in 2012, the High Court in Pretoria heard on Monday.

“In short we do not trust or believe any of his promises,” said advocate Dali Mpofu, pushing for the report on the August 12 2012 shootings to be released immediately.

The president said he would release it by June 30, after he had had time to come to grips with it.

But Mpofu said rumours were flying around that “this one” has got a diplomatic posting, “that one” is retiring, regarding some of the officials possibly implicated in the shooting, and this was creating a situation of “nervous exhaustion” for the mineworkers and their families.

Ntombi Mosebetsane who lost her husband Thabiso in the shooting sits alongside mineworker Simphiwe Booi inside the courtroom. (Jenni Evans, News24)

‘A pot pourri of circumstances’

Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, who had been a director at platinum mining company Lonmin at the time of the strike, already has access to it, through a “pot pourri” of circumstances, and mineworkers were worried he might interfere with it.

“He [Zuma] says he needs three months, 12 weeks to study, consider the report. But he's saying the applicants must have six weeks to study, to consider, and also to litigate on it,” he said, referring to the imminent lapse of the three years workers and their families would have to lodge civil claims against the government.

''Viewed objectively that is an irrational postulation,'' said Mpofu.

Given the relationship between the mine employees and the government, they did not believe it would be released on June 30, he said.

The court was so full of workers, their families and sympathisers who had come to observe, that they were allowed to sit on the floor near the judge while others stood in the aisles.

The application by workers had already been moved from a smaller court to accommodate everyone, and Mpofu had to stop from time to time to relay an instruction for silence, or remind the public gallery that cellphones be put on silent.

The packed courtroom. (Jenni Evans, News24)

No reason given

Mpofu said mineworkers believed it was the president, or government, that “killed people when they were on strike”, and had arrested people who were already traumatised by what they had seen.

The period since the shooting had been very difficult with widows not knowing what really happened, or what to tell their children.

The applicants know they may seem unreasonable, but they do not trust Zuma to keep his word, and don't accept “in due course”, Mpofu said.

He added: “We have not been given a reason why we cannot have it now. There has been no justification except, 'I'm busy, don't rush me'."    

He called Zuma's treatment of victims and their families ''shabby'' and even though they wrote to him demanding the report, based on at least 40 000 pages of transcriptions from the Farlam Commission of Inquiry, Zuma had only spoken to parliament about the release date.

Respect for the law

Coming to court for the report was a show of respect for the law, he continued.

“These people, My Lord,” he said turning to the packed public gallery, “They know where this report is. It's up the street. They could go down there and demand it violently. They have decided to come here.”

Zuma's counsel Hilton Epstein said there was no question that Zuma would release the report on June 30.

The president had acknowledged that the Marikana shooting was one of the worst events in the country's history.

“The fact is the president did not say he will not release it. It will be released... There is a date. The date is the 30th of June, at the latest.”

The court adjourned for lunch and would continue at 14:00.

Read more on:    ian farlam  |  jacob zuma  |  dali mpofu  |  marikana inquiry

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