Ramaphosa: I did not prescribe how police should act

Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa. (AFP)

Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa. (AFP)

Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa has described numerous phone calls and emails made between himself, Cabinet ministers and Lonmin management in the week leading up to the Marikana massacre. But despite this he insists that he did not prescribe to the police how they should conduct themselves at Lonmin. 

“I did not at any time seek to prescribe the type of action they should take except what I understand to be their duties,” Ramaphosa told the Farlam commission on Monday. 

Ramaphosa was a shareholder and a non-executive board member at Lonmin in August 2012, when miners embarked on an unprotected strike demanding higher wages. 

Ramaphosa has been accused of political interference during the strike which resulted in police killing 34 strikers and injuring over 70 on August 16 2012. 

In the week preceding the strike, 10 people, including miners, Lonmin security guards and police, were killed. 

Escalating violence
Advocate David Unterhalter led Ramaphosa’s evidence in chief and took him through emails sent to him by Lonmin marketing manager Albert Jamieson, who was doubling up as Lonmin chief executive at the time. In them, Jamieson urges Ramaphosa to “please use your influence to bring this to the attention of the necessary officials”.

In a phone call with then police minister Nathi Mthethwa on the evening of August 12 2012, Ramaphosa raised Jamieson’s concerns of the escalating violence at Marikana. “In my call to him [I] raised the concern that people had died and are dying, that the situation is getting worse and that Jamieson had requested that there be more police presence,” Mthethwa told the commission. 

“I felt duty bound to try and help and see the extent to which I could communicate with those in power, as he had said in his email, to try and get the situation not to escalate to further violence and loss of life.” 

Later in the week, Ramaphosa again spoke to Mthethwa as well as to then minister of mineral resources, Susan Shabangu.
Ramaphosa conveyed to Shabangu that her “inaction and silence” regarding the unfolding events at Marikana was bad for her.

“What we wanted to communicate to government is that we’re dealing with people who are being killed. What we need to do is to prevent further deaths from occurring. Those perpetrating those acts should be arrested,” said Ramaphosa in defence of an email where he told the Lonmin executive that he had asked the minister to take “concomitant action”. 

“The police needed to do their job … to have a presence where acts of criminality are taking place to prevent further acts of criminality and to arrest those who perpetrated such acts so that they do not carry on perpetrating those acts,” he explained.

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