“You were the intermediary, the conduit, through which the pressure Mr Ramaphosa refers to was conveyed to the senior management of police and ultimately to the officers which killed people,” Dali Mpofu, SC, for the arrested and injured miners said in Pretoria.
Mpofu was cross-examining Mthethwa at the inquiry’s public hearings.
The advocate read out an e-mail penned by Ramaphosa, as a Lonmin shareholder, to fellow board members: “I have just had a discussion with Susan Shabangu [then minister of mining]. She agrees that [what] we are going through is not a labour dispute but a criminal act.
“She will correct her characterisation of what we are experiencing. She is going into cabinet and will brief the president as well and get Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa to act in a pointed way. Let us [apply] the pressure on them to act correctly.”
Mpofu said from Ramaphosa’s point of view pressure was being deliberately applied.
Chairman of the inquiry, retired judge Ian Farlam, said soliciting Mthethwa’s opinions on Ramaphosa’s e-mails would not assist the commission.
Farlam said Ramaphosa would have to explain his sentiments when he testified.
Mpofu was unconvinced: “This particular witness was a crucial part in the chain of pressure. I want his role in the deadly chain of pressure to be explained.
“We are going to argue that your denial of having exerted any pressure cannot be sustained and articulated. You were the conduit through which the political pressure from Mr Ramaphosa was transmitted to General Mbombo and to the killers.”
Lt-Gen Zukiswa Mbombo is North West provincial police commissioner.
Mthethwa testified on Monday that people, including Ramaphosa and National Union of Mineworkers president Senzeni Zokwana, called him “raising concern about what was happening at Marikana”.
“Firstly, I spoke to the deputy president now, Mr Ramaphosa, who had called and left a message. He explained to me that the situation in Marikana was bad. He said he was concerned because people were dying and property was being damaged.
“He said as far as he could see there were no adequate police on the ground.
“A similar message had been left by Mr Zokwana as president of the NUM,” said Mthethwa.
He said he had the telephone calls with Ramaphosa and Zokwana on August 12, 2012.
“I immediately contacted the [North West] provincial commissioner of police to ascertain the veracity of what I heard from the two gentlemen.
“The provincial commissioner confirmed that there was such a thing. I then wanted to understand what the police management was doing to deal with the situation, to prevent any damage,” said Mthethwa.
Mpofu submitted that the discussions between Ramaphosa, Mthethwa and Mbombo were illegal and against the constitutional framework.
Mthethwa said Mpofu’s assertions were a figment of his imagination.
Farlam then announced that the inquiry was taking a short adjournment.
Mpofu retorted: “Chairman, are you going to let the witness insult me and then just take lunch? Is this the language? You want the temperature to be at that level?”
Farlam said he did not consider Mpofu insulted.
Mthethwa, now arts and culture minister, 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.