Johannesburg - Former mineral resources minister Susan Shabangu gave police a “licence to kill” at Marikana in August 2012, the Farlam Commission of Inquiry heard on Tuesday.
Dali Mpofu, for Lonmin miners wounded and arrested during the unrest at Lonmin's platinum mining operations at Marikana, near Rustenburg in the North West, referred Shabangu to a statement she made in April 2008.
At the time, she was 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 read from her 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.
At the time Shabangu was addressing residents of Danville, Pretoria West, Lotus Gardens, Hercules, and Elandspoort. She complained about the “pathetic excuses” given by police unable or unwilling to deal with crime.
On Tuesday, she testified at the commission on her role during the August 2012 unrest. She was mineral resources minister at the time.
Mpofu told Shabangu that calling striking Lonmin miners criminals would have resulted in them being killed. Shabangu denied calling them criminals and said during the 2008 address she was referring to police protecting themselves against heavily-armed criminals.
Mpofu interjected and led her to another part of her 2008 statement.
He noted that she said: “If criminals dare to threaten the police or the livelihood or lives of innocent men, women and children, they must be killed.”
Mpofu said the Lonmin strikers had been accused of killing two police officers and were therefore regarded as criminals.
Shabangu repeatedly denied that she characterised the events at Lonmin as criminal.
Earlier, evidence leader Kameshni Pillay had read from an e-mail sent by deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa to Lonmin officials about a conversation he had with Shabangu about the Marikana unrest.
“She Shabangu 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,” it read.
At the time, Ramaphosa had business interests in Lonmin.
Shabangu told the commission that Ramaphosa relayed incorrect reports to his Lonmin colleagues because he was under pressure.
“He was the one who was under pressure and he wanted his colleagues to see that he is doing well,” said Shabangu.
Mpofu suggested Shabangu took orders from Ramaphosa and was influenced by him.
“Whoever asked him to influence me failed because he never influenced me. I am a very independent person,” she said.
Mpofu accused her of corruption.
“I'm going to argue that you're guilty of corruption,” he said, explaining that she helped Ramaphosa in ways that led to financial gain.
“Mr chairman, Mr Mpofu is being very pathetic,” Shabangu replied.
The commission, chaired by retired judge Ian Farlam, is investigating the deaths of 44 people during strike-related unrest at Lonmin's platinum mining operations at Marikana.
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 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.
Mpofu had been allocated around two hours to cross-examine Shabangu.
When Farlam pointed out his time was up, Mpofu said this was “very unfair” to his clients.
Farlam ignored Mpofu's remark and walked out of the auditorium for his tea break.
When the commission resumed, Mpofu said his clients complained that lawyers were given limited time to question government officials who possibly had the answers they were looking for.