Pretoria - ANC deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa made inquiries to Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa about unrest at Lonmin mine in Marikana, the Farlam Commission of Inquiry heard on Thursday.
This was the testimony of North West police commissioner Lt-Gen Zukiswa Mbombo, at the commission's public hearings in Pretoria.
Ishmael Semenya, SC, for the police, led her evidence.
They focused on a transcript of a meeting between Mbombo and Lonmin mine executives, including Barnard Mokwena and Jomo Kwadi, on August 14, two days before the shooting.
Mbombo wrote in the statement: “When I was speaking to Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa, he mentioned to me a name that is also calling him, that is pressurising him, unfortunately it is a politically high (individual).”
Mokwena interjected: “It is Cyril?” Mbombo replied: “Cyril Ramaphosa. Yes. When I was talking to national commissioner (Riah Phiyega) last night she said to me: 'Who are the shareholders here?' and I said I do not know the shareholders, but I know that the minister mentioned Cyril.
“And then she said: 'Now I got it.' You know why she says she got it? Remember, Cyril was in the (African National Congress) appeals committee of (Julius) Malema, remember?” Mokwena agreed.
Semenya then asked Mbombo to clarify what she meant by “pressuring” Mthethwa.
She responded: “This word pressuring that I used there, I use it very loosely. I use it when a citizen of South Africa phones me to be helped, or wants other people helped.”
“It is not a word I think was used by the minister. I don't think he used this word to me. It is a word that I use often concerning people's problems that they want assistance on.”
Semenya requested Mbombo to explain why she referred to Ramaphosa as “a politically high”.
She responded: “At that time I did not know which political office he (Ramaphosa) was in. I meant that I knew that he was in high political office when his name was mentioned.”
Commission chairman, retired judge Ian Farlam, asked Mbombo to explain why she had said “unfortunately” Ramaphosa was a politically high individual.
“Why did you use the word 'unfortunately'? I do not understand why you used the word 'unfortunately'. I don't understand what was unfortunate”, said Farlam.
“I used the word because I didn't want to divulge his name. I also did not know the political office he occupied at that stage,” responded Mbombo.
“There was nothing unfortunate about it. I used the word unfortunate because I did not want to divulge his name. I meant to say 'unfortunately I am not going to mention him by name'.”
The commission, led by Farlam, is probing the deaths of 44 people in Marikana.
On August 16, 2012, 34 people, mostly striking miners, were shot dead and 78 people were wounded when the police fired on a group gathered at a hill near the mine. They were trying to disperse and disarm them.
In the preceding week, 10 people, including the two policemen and the two security guards, were killed in strike-related violence.
Businessman-turned politician Ramaphosa's name featured prominently in the early stages of the inquiry, in 2012.
Dali Mpofu, SC, representing the miners wounded and arrested after the shooting on August 16, said there was an e-mail in which Ramaphosa condemned the protests, describing them as criminal acts and suggesting “concomitant action”.
“This (e-mail) was on 15 August at 14.58, exactly 24 hours before the people were mowed down on that mountain,” Mpofu said at the time.
“We have e-mails that were being exchanged between Lonmin management, government ministers (of mineral resources and the police) and at the centre is a gentleman called Cyril Ramaphosa,” he said.
“He advanced that what was taking place were criminal acts and must be characterised as such. In line with this characterisation (Ramaphosa said) there needs to be concomitant action to address the situation,” said Mpofu.
He said the e-mail was addressed to a certain “Dear Albert of Lonmin”.
Mpofu said Ramaphosa had called for action to deal with the “criminals, whose crime was to seek a wage increase”. - Sapa