Why Marikana workers want R1 billion in compensation

Mzoxolo Magidiwana is claiming R5.5?million for his injuries 
PHOTO: Leon Sadiki
Mzoxolo Magidiwana is claiming R5.5?million for his injuries PHOTO: Leon Sadiki

The mine workers who were wounded and arrested during the Marikana massacre are suing Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, mining giant Lonmin and the government for nearly R1 billion, claiming their “collusion” led to the tragedy.

The 329 mine workers have already instituted a civil claim of R1 billion against the presidency, the National Prosecuting Authority and the police minister.

Last month, they filed a fresh claim in the South Gauteng High Court against Ramaphosa, Lonmin and government claiming they “acted in concert” and Ramaphosa should have foreseen that the “pressure he exerted” on police would have resulted in injury and death.

Two weeks ago, Ramaphosa told Parliament he had received the summons, but he declined to elaborate. He has yet to file responding papers.

His spokesperson, Ronnie Mamoepa, said: “The deputy president has instructed his lawyers to look into the matter and defend the action. Nonetheless, the findings of the [Marikana Commission of Inquiry] in his personal capacity remain very clear.

“We’ll leave it in the capable hands of his lawyers,” he said.

Before the massacre, Ramaphosa – a former nonexecutive director of Lonmin – called the police minister at the time, Nathi Mthethwa, asking for “concomitant action” against the striking workers. But the chair of the commission, retired Judge Ian Farlam, found no evidence to suggest Ramaphosa had anything to do with the massacre.

However, in court papers, the mine workers argue that:

. Ramaphosa’s emails and phone calls to politicians and Lonmin officials were the reason the police shot dead 34 strikers on August 16 2012 and that he, Lonmin and government “acted in concert” in the “collusion of state and capital”, which resulted in the massacre;

. Ramaphosa should have foreseen that involvement by the police would cause the death of strikers;

. The “pressure exerted by him” was passed on from politicians to senior police officers and to the police who shot the strikers;

. Ramaphosa was negligent as a director, shareholder and BEE investor in Lonmin and together they shirked their legal responsibilities to protect their workers from harm;

. Ramaphosa “actively incited violence, predictable death, serious injury and unlawful arrests, detention and prosecution”; and

. He failed to promote or initiate meaningful negotiations about the mine workers’ wages.

The mine workers argue that Lonmin:

. Directors and senior employees participated in email exchanges with Ramaphosa;

. Unlawfully colluded with police to end the strike by any means; and

. Instigated premature use of police violence against the strikers to protect Ramaphosa’s financial and political interests.

The mine workers are demanding damages for pain and suffering to the tune of more than R977 million. They also want an unconditional apology, an “undertaking by all parties to refrain from similar conduct in the future” and a monument and reconciliation programmes for all the massacre’s victims.

This is the first civil claim against Ramaphosa.

The families of the 34 men who died in the massacre are also suing Lonmin and the minister of police, and have demanded an apology and compensation.

The court papers include a breakdown of how much compensation each injured worker wants and a description of their injuries.

Mzoxolo Magidiwana, who was shot at Scene 1, is suing for R5.5 million after sustaining multiple gunshot injuries, including an injury to the right femur and right hip.

“For a while, I have had this pain on the side of my stomach. When I went to get it checked, I was told the doctors would have to cut me open again,” he told City Press.

A few weeks ago, he had to undergo surgery for a stomach infection.

“I have to live an active life now, but it’s not easy. I know I will never live a full life again and there’s no way my body will be able to carry me to old age, especially when I may have to continue undergoing these operations,” he said.

“I am glad I am alive, because the way my body was riddled with bullets, I should have died, and Cyril had a role to play in that.”

About the apology they want from Ramaphosa, he said: “Asking for forgiveness is greater than all the money in the world.”

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