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Marikana inquiry shown Ramaphosa emails

A SERIES of e-mails released at yesterday’s sitting of the Marikana commission paints ANC heavyweight and one of South Africa’s wealthiest men, Cyril Ramaphosa, as a cold-hearted businessman.

Released by advocate Dali Mpofu — who is representing injured miners and more than 200 workers who were arrested — the e-mail correspondence with Lonmin executives portrays Ramaphosa as callous.

In a mail to Albert Jamieson, Lonmin’s chief commercial officer, a day before the August 16 shooting, Ramaphosa is said to have written: “The terrible events that have unfolded cannot be described as a labour dispute. They are plainly dastardly criminal and must be characterised as such … there needs to be concomitant action to address this situation”.

This is in stark contrast to the compassionate image Ramaphosa projected in the aftermath of the Marikana massacre, in which 34 miners were shot dead.

On October 17, Ramaphosa — a former NUM leader and whose name is being bandied about as a possible ANC deputy president candidate — visited the site of the shooting as part of a delegation with President Jacob Zuma. On October 18, Ramaphosa’s Shanduka company announced he had donated R2-million towards the funeral costs of the miners.

“It is critical that all parties take meaningful steps to ensure that nothing of this nature ever happens again. For this reason, Shanduka Group supports a full and thorough investigation into the circumstances that gave rise to this incident,” the company said.

Yesterday, Mpofu told the commission that the e-mails showed a direct “toxic collusion” between Lonmin, Mineral Resources Minister Susan Shabangu’s department, the police ministry, state security agencies and Ramaphosa.

“It is clear Ramaphosa was directly involved by advising what was to be done to address these ‘dastardly criminal actions’, which he says must be characterised as such and dealt with effectively,” Mpofu said.

Ramaphosa’s office refused to comment yesterday, saying the matter was being dealt with by the commission.

In other e-mails to Lonmin executives — chairman Roger Phillimore, business transformation manager Thandeka Ncube, chief financial officer Simon Scott and board member Mohamed Seedat — on August 15, Ramaphosa reveals how he will intervene with senior ANC and government figures on behalf of the mining company.

The e-mails allegedly show that Ramaphosa, chairman of Lonmin’s BEE partner, Incwala, warned Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa to come down hard on striking miners; how mining bosses lobbied him to “influence” Shabangu; and how he advised Shabangu that her “silence and inaction” about the happenings at Lonmin was “bad for her and government”.

An e-mail titled “Security Situation” reads: “You are absolutely correct in insisting that the minister [Shabangu] and indeed all government officials need to understand that we are essentially dealing with a criminal act. I have said as much to the minister of safety and security”.

In another mail, Ramaphosa highlights his “interaction with some of the roleplayers”, including:

- A conversation with NUM president Senzeni Zokwana about a meeting with the union’s general secretary, Frans Baleni, and former president James Motlatsi to discuss what the unions should do, and that 500 to 700 miners wanted to return to work;

- A proposed conversation with ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe to suggest that the ANC intervene;

- A conversation with Mike Teke, deputy chairman of the Chamber of Mines, about the situation at Marikana; and

- A discussion and proposal for a meeting with Shabangu in Cape Town on August 15 to discuss “what she needs to do”.

In an e-mail thanking Ramaphosa for his help on the Marikana matter, Jamieson questions Shabangu’s statement during a radio interview that she had been “briefed” that the matter was a wage dispute that called for management and unions to “sit down and sort [it] out”.

Said Jamieson: “Not sure who briefed her, we are waiting to talk to her and, although not too damaging, it’s also not too helpful”.

Jamieson said he had two discussions with Shabangu’s director-general, Thibedi Ramontja, emphasising that the strike was not an industrial relations matter but “a civil unrest-destabilisation-criminal issue” that should be resolved “without political invention” but instead by the police or army.

“I think on both occasions he agreed with me and it reflected what was in our letter, but now I’m not sure,” wrote Jamieson.

All the e-mails, Mpofu said, showed that there had been consensus that action should be taken against the miners.

“E-mails between the North West provincial police commissioner, the national police commissioner and the police minister that they were all on the same page about the action to be taken … even the media was called and told ‘today is the day’,” Mpofu said.

He charged: “The notion that police are filled with regret and pity for the families is ridiculous. What happened here was done with murderous intent. It was as near as one will get to state-sanctioned murder”.

Threatening to withdraw from proceedings over a lack of Legal Aid funding for the injured miners, Mpofu warned: “Justice will be obtained whether it is here or in the International Criminal Court of Justice where we will lay charges against the police and the state. We will not rest until we get justice for what is clearly premeditated murder”.

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