Pretoria - Former police minister Nathi Mthethwa was asked whether he had referred to striking miners as anarchists, at the Farlam Commission of Inquiry in Pretoria on Tuesday.
Dumisa Ntsebeza, SC, for the families of the dead Lonmin mineworkers, played a video recorded at Marikana on August 17, a day after 34 protesting miners were killed in a confrontation with police.
In the video, Mthethwa addresses police officers.
He is heard saying: “Continue doing your job, in a professional manner. There will be criticism, but as your leadership we are confident that you did what you did in trying to ensure the rule of law reigns in South Africa.
“We must ensure that at all times we do everything in our power so that anarchists do not think South Africa is their stage. I want to thank you on behalf of our government.”
Ntsebeza, who was cross-examining Mthethwa, said his statements described the protesters, including the dead strikers, as anarchists.
“Who were you referring to as anarchists? You were certainly not referring to members of the SA Police Service.”
Commission chairman, retired judge Ian Farlam, said it had not been established whether police were responsible for the deaths.
“When you were saying to the members of the police service that you would not allow anybody to run amok, is it fair then to say you were characterising the people who had been responsible that week for the killing of police and Lonmin officials (as anarchists) only,” said Ntsebeza.
Mthethwa said not all the protesters were criminals.
“We must be clear, we are not talking about everybody who was there. We are talking about the people who killed others, who were part of the protesters,” said Mthethwa.
Ntsebeza said Mthethwa's remarks implied the police were justified in shooting the protesters because they were running amok.
Mthethwa, now arts and culture minister, was police minister when 34 people, mostly striking Lonmin miners, 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 operations.
In the preceding week, 10 people, including two policemen and two security guards, were killed. The commission is investigating the 44 deaths. - Sapa