Ramaphosa criminally liable for deaths of 34 strikers, says Mpofu

LAWYER for the workers who were injured and arrested in Marikana in 2012, Dali Mpofu said Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa was criminally liable for the deaths of 34 striking workers at Lonmin’s Marikana mine.

A moment of silence was observed at the enquiry on Tuesday as it was the two-year anniversary of the deaths of the first three people who lost their lives during the wildcat strike that culminated in the bloody standoff on August 16, 2012, during which 34 strikers were gunned down by police.

During cross-examination on Tuesday, Mr Ramaphosa readily accepted some responsibility for the tragedy at Marikana — his part in what he called a “collective failure” of stakeholders. But Mr Mpofu said he would argue at the end that the commission should recommend to the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) to consider bringing criminal charges against the deputy president.

Laying the basis for his argument, Mr Mpofu referred to a “dirty dozen” of “actions” on the part of Mr Ramaphosa, including phone calls to former police minister Nathi Mthethwa, former mining minister Susan Shabangu and email exchanges with Lonmin executives.

He said that because Mr Ramaphosa was simultaneously on Lonmin’s board, was a former leader of the National Union of Mineworkers and a member of the African National Congress’s national executive committee, he had a conflict of interest and was caught up in a “cesspool of inappropriate incestuous relationships” — to which Mr Ramaphosa said he took “exception”.

Common Purpose

Mr Ramaphosa said there was no conflict of interest when he was working towards a common purpose that everyone shared: to prevent the loss of life.

Things got heated when he used an example of a friendly chat the two had on Monday during one of the breaks about Mr Mpofu’s status as a senior counsel. While Mr Mpofu was awarded silk, he — and others including Judge Ian Farlam’s son — had yet to obtain his letters patent from the president, he said. He said Mr Mpofu had asked him if he could assist — not a conflict of interest, he said, because he wanted Mr Mpofu to get his letters patent.

But Mr Mpofu said he was lying, that he had not asked for assistance, instead Mr Ramaphosa had offered. “Don’t come and patronise me, I have not asked for any favours,” said Mr Mpofu.

Judge Farlam eased the tension, joking that he hoped Mr Ramaphosa would put in a good word with the president for all of those waiting for their letters patent. – Business Day Live

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