Lonmin could not criticise Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa for his role in events during the unprotected strike at Lonmin’s Marikana mine in August 2012, the Farlam Commission of Inquiry has heard.
“I cannot criticise Mr Ramaphosa on what he did. He did what any responsible businessman would’ve done,” Schalk Burger, for Lonmin, told the commission in his final arguments today.
Ramaphosa was a non-executive director of Lonmin at the time of the August 2012 wage-related strike.
He had been accused of using his political influence to get the police to act against the striking workers.
Burger argued that Ramaphosa’s motive was to “stabilise the situation and bring the violence to an end”.
He added that the commission’s evidence leaders had not suggested that Ramaphosa did not exercise his best endeavours.
Earlier, Burger argued that Lonmin could not breach the legal framework to negotiate with mineworkers.
He said that one of the problems they had was that none of the strikers could explain how they reached the figure of R12 500 for their wage demand.
“We haven’t heard that to this day. We don’t even know if a housing allowance was included in that. What we do know is that that was net... and that it was non-negotiable,” Burger said.
He referred to the testimony of striker Mzoxolo Magidiwana who testified that even if Lonmin had gone to the hill where the strikers had gathered and asked them to disarm themselves, go home, and then engage in talks with Lonmin, they would not have entertained that.
Burger said it was an unrealistic request to have expected Lonmin to engage with the strikers outside of structures given that they were armed, ignoring a court order, and running amok.
“What is the point of criticising Lonmin for not talking to the strikers?” Burger asked.
“If they had talked, it would’ve caused rippling into the mining industry which we would not have been able to unravel ... it would not have prevented the tragedy on the 16th [of August].”
The commission is investigating the deaths of 44 people at Lonmin’s platinum mining operations in Marikana, North West, in the strike-related unrest in August 2012.