Pretoria - The Farlam Commission of Inquiry into events at Marikana was brought to a standstill on Monday afternoon.
During the cross-examination of deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa, protesters banged on tables and clapped hands shouting "Ramaphosa must resign" and "blood on his hands."
Bodyguards rushed into the auditorium and many police officers stood at the entrance.
After a short while Dali Mpofu, for the arrested miners, managed to calm the protesters.
Chairman of the inquiry, retired judge Ian Farlam, said it was vital for Ramaphosa to be allowed to give his evidence.
Earlier the protesters had prevented the group from entering the venue in Centurion.
The workers said they had attended the commission since the beginning, “but today they are stopping us because their leader in here”.
Some of them were wearing T-shirts printed “McCyril the killer” and “Bufalo head”. (Ramaphosa apologised in 2012 for his R18 million bid at an auction for a buffalo amid a “sea of of poverty”.)
He told the commission he wanted the police to take appropriate action to protect lives and properties.
Ramaphosa's Shanduka Group has shares in Lonmin. He became a board member in 2010, later chairing the transformation committee.
He said people had already been killed by the time he was informed on the events that were unfolding.
“It was terrible seeing people getting killed and their body parts cut out,” he said.
“I felt that police needed to take appropriate action to identify the perpetrators and arrest them so they could not carry on.”
Ramaphosa said this assessment was based on the information that was supplied to him by people on the ground.
“I wanted police to do their job and never prescribed any form of action,” Ramaphosa said.
The deputy president said his position was fuelled by the fact that what was unfolding at Marikana was no longer a labour matter but act of criminality.
The perpetrators had to be characterised as such.
Ramaphosa said he first became aware of the situation at Marikana through an email from Shanduka transformation manager Thandeka Ncube.
Led through his submission by David Unterhalter SC, he said the email elaborated on the crisis that was unfolding.
Ncube wrote that the rock drill operators wanted a salary increase while Lonmin had proposed a bonus.
She stated that Lonmin also wanted to resolve the dispute via a disciplinary process.
Ramaphosa said he responded that he was concerned that what Lonmin was paying the miners was way below industry standards.
He feared that offering bonus was not a workable solution and that the workers would not accept that.
Under cross examination, Ramaphosa said mass dismissal of workers was not an option and that the matter could be resolved by negotiations.
He was responding to a question on whether the solution to resolve the matter through negotiations could not have been raised sooner.
He said the situation was further elaborated in another correspondence with Albert Jamieson.
Ramaphosa submitted he called the police ministry to ask for more police on the ground to ensure the lives and property were protected.
“I responded that the situation was getting worse and that let's keep cool heads and take immediate steps.
“Some of the description of how people were being killed was horrific. When I say take appropriate measures, I expected police to identify the culprits and act as they would normally do.
“I said we should keep calm heads because I did not want us to raise alarm. I still believed the situation could be brought under control.”
Pretoria News and Sapa