“The 37 families who I represent want to hear one thing from you and hopefully from the Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa when he comes,” Dumisa Ntsebeza, SC, for the families, said at the inquiry’s public hearings in Pretoria.
“They want to hear from you that nothing at all in a democracy should ever justify the police killing its own people. The police are well trained in other mechanisms that can contain whatever is being done by protesters, short of killing them in that fashion.”
Mthethwa said his response was in line with what he told the inquiry on Monday.
“I said such a thing should not happen in a democracy. I want to concur with Mr Ntsebeza on that,” Mthethwa said.
“Without dealing with the violent nature of the national discourse in our country, still people feel that they need to be violent. I am not specifically talking about this matter. I am very confident that the outcome of this very honourable commission would put us on a pedestal where such acts are not seen in South Africa.”
Mthethwa was police minister when 34 people, mostly striking Lonmin mineworkers, were shot dead in a clash with police in Marikana, near Rustenburg, North West, on August 16, 2012. More than 70 were wounded, and another 250 arrested at the company’s platinum mining operations.
In the preceding week, 10 people, including two policemen and two security guards, were killed. The commission is investigating the 44 deaths.
Ramaphosa, a Lonmin shareholder, is set to testify at the inquiry at the end of the month.
When Ntsebeza concluded his questioning, Mthethwa was cross-examined by Dali Mpofu, for the arrested and injured miners.
“If anyone in the operational management of the police had taken decisions as a result of political pressure, that is against the law,” said Mthethwa.
Mpofu said: “In your case, the implications would be far-reaching if indeed you exerted political pressure which resulted in the death of 34 people.”
Mpofu said if it was proven there was political interference, it would mean Mthethwa was unfit for office. Mthethwa said his fitness for office would be determined by the people who put him there.
Mpofu asked again whether Mthethwa thought political interference would affect his political career.
Mthethwa responded: “I have answered. I don’t answer the same question twice.”
Mpofu said: “I am asking you again. Chairperson, I don’t want attitude from this witness”.
Inquiry chairman, retired judge Ian Farlam intervened, urging Mpofu to “keep the temperature down”.
Mpofu retorted: “Let it not be rising. Otherwise I can rise up to it.”
He said if Mthethwa exerted political pressure on the police to act against protesting miners, the minister would be complicit in murder.
Mthethwa denied exerting pressure on police management.