Wednesday, December 20, 2017

We don't forget

Cyril Ramaphosa, the new ANC leader, is portrayed as a champion of the people, in contrast to his predecessor, the corrupt Zuma. How deserving is he of this reputation?

In his new book on Cyril Ramaphosa, j Ray Hartley examined Ramaphosa's role in the slaughter of striking mine workers at Marikana in August 2012.

 So prominent was the criticism of Ramaphosa that the Farlam commission devoted an entire chapter of its report to his role in the incident. The chapter began with an outline of the links between Ramaphosa and Marikana. Ramaphosa had exchanged emails with Lonmin personnel between 11 and 15 August 2012: “They recorded that Mr Ramaphosa had conversations relating to the events at Marikana which are being investigated by the commission with the then minister of police Mr Nathi Mthethwa and with the minister of mineral resources, Ms Susan Shabangu.”

Advocate Dali Mpofu, counsel for the injured and arrested persons, seized on a phrase used by Ramaphosa in an email encouraging a more effective security force response to the strike. Ramaphosa had described the strikers as criminals and had called for “concomitant action” to be taken. Mpofu argued that the emails were evidence of “concerted pressure that was being put, among others, on the police – well firstly on the government not to call the strike a strike or not to call it labour related but to call it so-called criminal action and that was a platform from which it would be easier to inflict violence on strikers”.
The essence of the argument was that there was a causal connection between Ramaphosa’s statements and the killing of strikers by police. Mpofu argued that Ramaphosa’s intervention “triggered a series of events which determined the timing of the massacre. He knew exactly what he was doing and he is the cause of the Marikana massacre, as we know it. It was demonstrated that he has a case to answer on 34 counts of murder and many counts of attempted murder as well as intent to do grievous bodily harm.”
Mthethwa testified that Ramaphosa had told him that he did not think that what was unfolding was “pure industrial action in the true sense of the word: it had criminality on it and violence”. In an email to Albert Jamieson on the eve of the shooting, Ramaphosa wrote that “all government officials need to understand that we are essentially dealing with a criminal act. I have said as much to the minister of safety and security.”

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