Former police minister Nathi Mthethwa was cross-examined at the inquiry’s public hearings in Pretoria by Dali Mpofu, SC, for the arrested and injured miners.
“Why is it that representatives of the state, like yourself, find it difficult to apologise, to say they are sorry for the massacre?” Mpofu asked.
“You don’t think that the rules of common decency and batho pele (people first) demand from you that where responsible for the deaths, justified or unjustified, that you apologise to the people affected?”
Mthethwa said the government was looking forward to the conclusion of the Farlam inquiry to get to the facts about what transpired at Marikana.
“We are here on a fact-finding mission, when the results come out and they point to the state, I don’t think there will be anything which will make the state not to apologise when it should apologise.
“There will be no qualms from the state, if the state has to apologise.”
Mthethwa said remorse had to be shown in the matter, particularly to the people who died.
The inter-ministerial committee went to Marikana and apologised for what happened, Mthethwa said.
Mpofu asked Mthethwa to repeat the apology.
Mthethwa said: “We know that it is not going to heal people immediately, but we are remorseful. It should never happen again.
“We are pained with what happened and we apologise [for] the lives that were affected by this because it was not supposed to happen.”
Mpofu said: “Well, you don’t want to give a straightforward apology. You can just say ‘we are sorry’.”
Mthethwa responded: “No, don’t be sensational. I am saying it for the second time, we apologise for what happened.”
Mpofu retorted: “No, listen here, minister, you are just a witness when you are sitting there. This is not a cabinet meeting.”
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.