Home News S.African opposition wants top officials tried over massacre

S.African opposition wants top officials tried over massacre

Published on 26/06/2015

South Africa's opposition Friday targeted Vice President Cyril Ramaphosa among top officials they want prosecuted after the release of a report into a police massacre of 34 striking miners.

The radical Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) party, led by firebrand Julius Malema, said it would take action to ensure the “political elite” behind the 2012 killings at Lonmin’s Marikana mine were jailed.

“We shall not rest until justice is served and those responsible are sent to rot in jail, particularly Cyril Ramaphosa,” the EFF said in a statement.

The report of a commission of inquiry into the worst police violence in South Africa since the end of apartheid was released by President Jacob Zuma on Thursday night.

It called for the officers involved to face a criminal investigation and for an inquiry into National Police Commissioner Riah Phiyega’s fitness to hold office.

But it cleared senior government officials of any culpability, including then police minister Nathi Mthethwa and former mines minister Susan Shabangu.

It also exonerated Ramaphosa, who was then a non-executive director and shareholder at Lonmin but held no government office, saying the accusations against him were “groundless”.

Lawyers for the survivors of the shooting had accused him of triggering the massacre.

The inquiry heard that Ramaphosa contacted the ministers of police and mining ahead of the killings, pushing for police intervention to end a strike that had already turned deadly.

But Ramaphosa has maintained he was simply trying to prevent further bloodshed and denies pressing for a violent crackdown.

Most shocking finding –

The Marikana Support Campaign, an NGO, said it and affiliate organisations including trade unions “will not allow the lives lost in Marikana to be in vain.”

“The exoneration of Cyril Ramaphosa, Nathi Mthethwa, Susan Shabangu and the entire executive is perhaps the most shocking finding of all,” it said in a statement.

“In terms of Ramaphosa this is nothing short of a whitewash.”

The main opposition party, the Democratic Alliance, has said it will press specifically for former police minister Mthethwa to be held accountable.

“We will not accept that the events of August 2012 are relegated to the annals of history without justice having taken its course,” said the DA.

A small opposition party, the Congress of the People (COPE), is also pushing for prosecution of senior government officials.

“It was politics that failed everyone and the nation on that fateful day in August 2012. That failed politics must go on trial,” said COPE leader Mosiuoa Lekota.

But Zuma on Friday appealed to the opposition not to use the Marikana massacre to score political points.

“We urge political parties not to use this national tragedy for political posturing,” said Zuma.

“The tragedy should instead unite us as South Africans behind the resolve of eliminating all forms of violence in our country.”

But Joseph Mathunjwa, leader of the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu), also pointed the finger at senior politicians in the killings.

“We find it very much strange and very unfortunate that the executive were exonerated from the whole massacre,” Mathunjwa told eNCA private television.

“There was political pressure from the deputy president.”