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Ramaphosa 'liable' in Marikana mine massacre debacle, says judge

by Staff reporter
03 Jul 2022 at 16:20hrs | Views
President Cyril Ramaphosa might be liable in the 2012 Lonmin mine disastrous strike, the South Gauteng High Court ruled in an application by workers seeking compensation against the president and mine owners Sibanye Stillwater.

The main essence of the ruling was that a case could be made that Ramaphosa, Lonmin and the police colluded in the events that led to the killings. While the court ruling could not find them directly responsible for the deaths, it found that they were complicit in the events leading up to them, according to City Press.

On 16 August 2012, the South African Police Service (Saps) gunned down 34 striking miners at the Lonmin platinum mine in Marikana, North West. The violent clash made global headlines and was the most lethal use of state force in post-apartheid South Africa's history.

At the time of the strike in 2012, Ramaphosa was not in government, but a businessman and board member at Lonmin, which was acquired by Sibanye Stillwater a few years ago.

Surviving Marikana employees are seeking millions in compensation. Claimants approached a number of legal representatives, with the claims being centralised to the State Attorney offices in Pretoria.

Judge Frits van Oosten on Friday upheld four of Ramaphosa's exceptions, but rejected one, in which he found that Ramaphosa had taken part in, planned and endorsed the cooperation between Lonmin mine in Marikana and the SAPS, which had culminated in the deaths, injuries, arrests and detention of the striking mine workers.

"I agree, and it is accordingly my finding, that the plaintiffs have satisfied the test of legal causation," said Van Oosten in a ruling which enables the surviving mine workers to hold Ramaphosa personally liable for what they suffered.

ALSO READ: State crunches numbers of Marikana claims worth almost R70m

Ramaphosa was elected ANC deputy president to former president Jacob Zuma in December 2012. He ascended to presidency after his election at the party's conference in 2017.

Van Oosten said Ramaphosa had submitted that the pressure allegedly exerted and transmitted to ground level did not satisfy the requirement of legal causation in delict, adding that causation entailed a two-stage test.

"As counsel for the plaintiffs was at pains to emphasise, whether the plaintiffs will be able to prove those allegations at the trial is not relevant for the present purposes. I am in agreement with counsel for the plaintiffs that the allegations, as they stand, do satisfy the test for factual causation," Van Oosten ruled.

'Concomitant action' not a call for violence

The mine workers' lawyer Andries Nkome, told the publication that Ramaphosa was responsible for the compensation.

"This being the case, our clients feel strongly that we must review the Farlam commission [the Marikana Commission of Inquiry].

"It was impossible for the then national police commissioner Riah Phiyega, who had been hardly 60 days in office, to ‘mastermind' a massacre, more so since she was not a Lonmin shareholder or an ANC national executive member. Ramaphosa, who wore all these hats, stood to [suffer] a personal loss if the rock drill operators succeeded against the company and earned more."

The court didn't agree with the plaintiffs' assertion that Ramaphosa's call for "concomitant action" as the violence gripped the mine, meant workers had to be killed.

"I do not agree. The argument assumes, without proffering the grounds in support thereof, that the proposal was made that the workers be murdered. Having carefully read and considered the email communications, I have not been able to find any support for the inference that the murder of the workers was intended or foreseen."

He said that "Ramaphosa's characterisation of the events as dastardly criminal requiring concomitant action must be interpreted in the light of the communications as a whole."

Source - The Citizen