Lonmin responsible for Marikana, says Susan Shabangu

FILE PICTURE: Minister in the Presidency responsible for Women, Suzan Shabangu. Picture: GCIS

FILE PICTURE: Minister in the Presidency responsible for Women, Suzan Shabangu. Picture: GCIS

Former mineral resources minister Susan Shabangu on Tuesday accused platinum miner Lonmin of being responsible for the problems at Marikana.

“The employer is always responsible for problems (in the workplace),” Shabangu said during cross-examination by Mike van As, for Lonmin, at the Farlam Commission of Inquiry in Pretoria.

She stood by her statement that the platinum giant wanted to “remove NUM from the face of the earth”.

Van As said Lonmin had called for the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) and the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) to hold talks.

He accused her of rushing to conclusions before the commission had concluded its processes.

“Don’t you believe you prejudged the situation?” Van As asked her.

He called on her to withdraw the statement.

“I cannot do that,” she said.

In May 2013, Shabangu said the NUM was “under siege by forces determined to remove it from the face of the earth”.

The commission’s evidence leader Kameshni Pillay asked Shabangu who or what these forces were.

“I was referring to Lonmin, the employer.”

She said Lonmin’s behaviour contributed to the unrest at the mine.

“At times, we look at rivalry of unions and we forget the key element which is the employer,” she said, adding that the employer used divide-and-rule tactics.

“At the end of the day, the employer wins,” she said.

The commission, chaired by retired judge Ian Farlam, is investigating the deaths of 44 people during the strike-related unrest at Lonmin’s platinum mining operations at Marikana, near Rustenburg, North West, in August 2012.

Thirty-four people, mostly striking mineworkers, were shot dead in a clash with police on August 16, 2012. Over 70 were wounded and over 200 were arrested. Police were apparently trying to disperse and disarm them.

In the preceding week 10 people, including two policemen and two Lonmin security guards, were killed.

Tuesday’s proceedings were dedicated to Shabangu’s testimony.

Most of the cross-examination was based on an e-mail Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa sent to Lonmin bosses during the unrest. At the time, he had interests at the mine.

Pillay read from Ramaphosa’s e-mail: “She (Shabangu) agrees that what we are going through is not a labour dispute but a criminal act.”

Dali Mpofu, for the miners injured and arrested at Marikana, pointed the commission to an article published in April 2008 when Shabangu was still deputy police minister.

“You must kill the bastards if they threaten you or the community. You must not worry about the regulations. That is my responsibility. Your responsibility is to serve and protect,” Mpofu said, referring to Shabangu’s statement.

“I want to assure the police station commissioners and policemen and women from these areas that they have permission to kill these criminals.

“I won’t tolerate any pathetic excuses for you not being able to deal with crime. You have been given guns, now use them.

“I want no warning shots. You have one shot and it must be a kill shot”, Mpofu read.

Shabangu was addressing Pretoria residents and complained about the “pathetic excuses” given by police unable or unwilling to deal with crime.

Mpofu told Shabangu her calling striking Lonmin miners criminals may have resulted in them being killed.

Shabangu denied calling them criminals and said that during the 2008 address she was referring to police protecting themselves against heavily armed criminals.

Shabangu concluded her testimony on Tuesday and the commission was adjourned for the day.

One of the strike’s leaders, Xolani Nzuza, who began testifying on Monday, was expected to continue doing so on Wednesday.

– Sapa


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