Ramaphosa call helped 'trigger' S. Africa mining massacre: lawyer

5th November 2014, Comments 0 comments

A phone call by the man who would later become South Africa's deputy president helped lead to a crackdown that left 34 striking miners in South Africa dead in 2012, a lawyer said Wednesday as a probe into the incident drew to a close.

Cyril Ramaphosa, now the country's deputy president, however could not have anticipated the killings that resulted, the lawyer said.

The claim was made as final arguments began in the two-year inquiry into the massacre at the Lonmin platinum mine in Marikana north of Johannesburg during a work stoppage in August 2012.

"The SAPS (South African Police Service) acted from improper political reasons in deciding to remove strikers," said one of the lawyers for the commission of inquiry, Geoff Budlender.

He pointed specifically to interference by Ramaphosa, then a director and shareholder in Lonmin.

"One (motive) was to respond to the call Cyril Ramaphosa made to the minister of police," said Budlender.

He said this call was the "trigger" of the deadly crackdown but said Ramaphosa could not have reasonably foreseen what the consequences would be.

Ramaphosa has admitted he spoke to the ministers for mining and police to urge action, but denies encouraging a violent crackdown.

Budlender said the police plan to disperse the strikers included having mortuary vehicles on the scene.

Budlender also urged the panel to look beyond criminal liability and punish the leadership failure on all sides.

In the days leading up to the shooting, 10 others were killed by some of the strikers, including two police officers who were hacked to death.

"Whatever reason (the) shooters fired, presume it was lawful, that doesn't end the inquiry, because if the operation was the result of reckless planning or poor planning, the SA Police Service (SAPS) would be responsible, even if the shooters lawfully fired,"Z said Budlender.

"The leaders of the strike, even if not legally responsible for the murders.

did not prevent what the strikers did.

"Earlier, another commission lawyer Matthew Chaskalson recalled the "horror" of the day of the shooting.

"Looking day-in and day-out at pictures of bodies shot to pieces by assault rifles dulls our outrage at what is, and should be, unacceptable in a constitutional democracy," he said.

""Remember every victim who died at Marikana.

as an individual human being with a family and a life.

"The commission began in October 2012, sitting through 293 days of evidence from 56 witnesses, including police officers, trade unionists, Lonmin officials and injured and arrested miners.

"Closing arguments will run until November 14.

The final report on the shooting is due at the end of March 2015.


© 2014 AFP

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