Two weeks ago, Ramaphosa testified that he had persuaded Shabangu to change her characterisation of the violent strike from just a labour dispute to a "criminal act”, and to get government to act in a "more pointed way".
In the past, lawyers for the victims of the Marikana shooting have accused Ramaphosa of using his political ties to the ANC to influence government ministers to act against the strikers, resulting in the death of 34 mineworkers at the hands of police on the 16 August 2012. Shabangu denied that her decision to raise the matter of the Lonmin crisis with President Jacob Zuma and then Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa was influenced by her telephone conversation with Ramaphosa. She did not meet the two eventually. Asked by evidence leader Advocate Kameshni Pillay why she wanted to meet Zuma and Mthethwa after the conversation with Ramaphosa, Shabangu replied:
"When you reach a point and you realise there is not much you can do, you raise it with the relevant people," she said.
Shabangu also rubbished testimony of Ramaphosa, a former Lonmin shareholder, that he had persuaded her to change her mind about the strike.
"I must say it is not true. He never influenced me, he never persuaded. That cannot happen in about five minutes," she said.
She explained away the discrepancy between her statements – she publicly said the strike was a labour issue, yet she later claimed that strike was criminal – by saying she wanted to tell Zuma and Mthethwa first before making her view public knowledge. At times Shabangu seemed unsure of her answers. For instance, she initially told the Commission that she and her labour counterpart Mildred Oliphant had not met Amcu on 17 August 2012 because she did not know of Amcu's existence.
However, she later recanted, saying she simply meant Amcu was not part of the formal relationship between labour, business and government. The three sectors meet from time to time to deliberate about the future of the mining industry or resolve crises when they occur.
By Sabelo Ndlangisa