Marikana inquiry to have wide powers
THE Sunday Times can today reveal that the commission of inquiry to be appointed by President Jacob Zuma into this week's Marikana tragedy will be a judicial one.
Yesterday the government, trade unions and the mining sector - including Lonmin management - were locked in a meeting following violent scenes that left 44 dead at Lonmin's platinum mine in Rustenburg this week. This includes 34 striking miners shot dead by police on Thursday afternoon.
The meeting came amid fears of further labour-related unrest, while the government desperately seeks to restore investor confidence (see Business Times).
On Friday Zuma announced an inquiry, but did not specify the form it would take. The Sunday Times understands from Presidency officials that it will be a judicial inquiry.
This is important as the commission will have the power to subpoena witnesses and evidence. It will also mean that it may be headed by a judge, and its findings could be used for prosecution.
Zuma's spokesman, Mac Maharaj, would not confirm this. But he noted: "The first question is under what conditions in the law is he empowered to appoint a commission . if it's judicial, what are the requirements? The president had begun to entertain the commission of inquiry while he was in Maputo ... he has set in motion all the necessary legwork, investigating in law how to do it, terms of reference, what form it would be."
Former ANC Youth League president Julius Malema, meanwhile, yesterday received a hero's welcome from protesting workers at an open field in Wonderkop informal settlement outside Rustenburg near to where Thursday's tragedy occurred.
He was accompanied by former league secretary-general Sindiso Magaqa and axed spokesman Floyd Shivambu.
He urged the crowd: "Forward with R12000 forward!", a reference to the workers' wage demand .
"From today, when you are asked who is your president, 'I don't have a president'. The role of the president is to defend civilians. He failed to defend ordinary people. We don't have a president," he said.
"T he British are owning this mine. The British are making money out of this mine. But newspapers, TV and radio don't mention that Cyril Ramaphosa is also a shareholder in that mine. They don't mention it ... they eat with white people from Britain."
Malema did not mention that he had just returned from London where he held meetings with British business people.
He said workers had been killed because "there is a highly connected political figure in that mine".
"Workers have never been killed in such a way before ... there were killings among workers at Impala Platinum but they never brought R4 rifles to kill workers at Impala. Why? Because there is no Cyril Ramaphosa at Impala ... Cyril Ramaphosa is buying a buffalo worth R18-million at an auction. You asked him for R12000 ... he is refusing but he is buying a buffalo worth R18-million. Those are the type of leaders we have today ..."
He called on the Minister of Police, Nathi Mthethwa, to step down.
"The same thing with President Zuma. He must step down because when you were being killed, President Zuma was still in the country. He went to Mozambique leaving here when you were being killed ... they advised him that he has made a wrong decision. Go back. That is why he came back but he never cared about you," said Malema.
Lonmin board member and ANC leader Ramaphosa, meanwhile, has spoken out for the first time, calling the death of miners a tragedy that should have never happened.
"This is a tragedy of huge proportions. We should all be concerned that this happened. We should be saying to ourselves, 'This should never happen again'," he said.
Ramaphosa's Shanduka Resources owns a majority stake in Incwala Resources, Lonmin's black economic empowerment partner.
Ramaphosa, who is a non-executive director on Lonmin's board, defended the company's handling of the situation, saying its management had done what it could under "extremely difficult" circumstances.
"The CEO [Ian Farmer] as you know is ill. The chairman [Roger Phillimore] came down from London and started attending to the operations," he said.
"In my own view, having been on the ground, having seen what happened at Impala, and having noticed that we had a union that whipped up the emotions of people to demand three times their salary, I don't know what else could have been done," he said.
Ramaphosa cautioned against pointing fingers at anybody for the deaths, saying Zuma's commission of inquiry would uncover the reasons behind the tragedy.
"The president in his wisdom appointed this commission. All of us, rather than shift blame this way and that way, should wait until the commission issues a report. It is easy right now to throw blame around, but it is a complex issue. I am rather grateful that the president acted decisively by appointing this commission," he said.
Shanduka will contribute R2-million to the burial of the dead miners.
"I think it is important to do this even though some people might view it cynically," said Ramaphosa.
Ndaba Ntsele, president of the Black Business Council, condemned the killings, saying this was the return of the "death penalty".
"What happened there was a death sentence ... These guys were crying for a salary. Lonmin is an overseas company ... To kill our people for an overseas company is a disgrace," he said.
Ntsele said the police should have called business leaders to try to resolve the impasse.
"The black business leaders, Patrice [Motsepe], Cyril [Ramaphosa], Ndaba Ntsele ... should have been called. This thing needed all of us," he said.
Ntsele also hit out at Lonmin, saying its decision to assist with the funerals of the dead miners was cold comfort.
"The management of Lonmin were not there to negotiate with these people. They are using our people as pawns," he said.
He also rebuked Cosatu and National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) president Senzeni Zokwana for fleeing the angry workers and refusing to disembark from a police Nyala.
"Can you run away if your members call you out to come and address them? Why would you be afraid of people who voted for you. Even [Cosatu leader Zwelinzima] Vavi was not there," said Ntsele.
New details are emerging about the killings .
At yesterday's meeting, a high-ranking NUM official who did not want to be named said "shocking" pictures had been taken by Lonmin after the killing of six miners, two policemen and two security guards in the early days of the strike.
"What I saw will haunt me forever ... Some of the dead [had their] heads hacked and their tongues pulled out ... others had their eyes gouged and their lips chopped out," he said.
Franz Stehring, the divisional manager of the United Association of South Africa (Uasa), was also at the meeting and said his union had represented one of the two slain security guards.
He claimed a "third force" was operating at the mine. "It started out as union rivalry [between NUM and the new Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union, Amcu] but there is a third force operating there. The community has something to do with the violence. Rogue or criminal elements have definitely been playing a part. It's also interesting to note the absence of community leaders at this meeting ... . we need a truce from all stakeholders," Stehring said.
The meeting, at the Sunnyside Hotel in Parktown, Johannesburg, was headed by Mining Minister Susan Shabangu. Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant was also present as were about 60 delegates from the business and mining sector, the Chamber of Mines, organised labour and platinum producers, including Lonmin.
No Amcu representatives were there as it is not regarded as a registered union.
Shortly after the meeting began - an hour late - Shabangu asked that meetings be held separately with business and labour.
Gideon du Plessis from Solidarity, said three issues were raised in the meeting: the image of the mining industry internationally, labour issues and lasting solutions.
Zuma said the inquiry would "uncover the truth and facts" relating to this week's incidents: "We have asked relevant government departments including the provincial government to provide every possible assistance to the families during this painful and difficult period. The loss of life in this manner is unacceptable and we have to ensure that this never happens again."