Pretoria - Former mineral resources minister Susan Shabangu did not call the Marikana unrest a “criminal act”, she told the Farlam Commission of Inquiry on Tuesday.
“I disagree with what is written here that I'll correct my characterisation,” she told the inquiry's public hearings in Pretoria.
Evidence leader Kameshni Pillay read from an e-mail sent by now Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa to Lonmin officials about a conversation he had with Shabangu on the August 2012 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.
Questioned by Pillay on her role in the unrest, Shabangu denied the accuracy of the statement. She believed while people had died in the strike-related violence, it was still a labour issue.
In the e-mail, Ramaphosa said Shabangu would contact the police minister at the time, Nathi Mthethwa, and ensure he addressed the situation in a “pointed manner”. Shabangu again rejected this.
“That is incorrect. My intention was to raise the issue with him,” she said, adding that she was not seeking a particular reaction from him.
The commission is investigating the deaths of 44 people during the strike-related unrest at Lonmin's platinum mining operations at Marikana, near Rustenburg in the 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 them.
In the preceding week 10 people, including two policemen and two Lonmin security guards, were killed.