The Deputy President, Cyril Ramaphosa, on Thursday confirmed that he has been named in a summons regarding the ongoing fallout of the Marikana massacre. The real issue, though, is that the state continues to prolong the pain it says it wanted to cease, as it fails to engage Marikana victims on compensation. By GREG NICOLSON.
On Thursday, the Presidency confirmed that a summons has been issued to Deputy President, Cyril Ramaphosa, with regard to the Marikana massacre. A statement from Ramaphosa’s spokesperson, Ronnie Mamoepa, said he will defend the action, and the findings of the Marikana Commission of Inquiry remain clear in exonerating the Deputy President for his role while he was a non-executive director of Lonmin during the Marikana killings.
Andries Nkome, attorney for the 275 injured and arrested mineworkers who have lodged civil compensation claims against the state, on Thursday confirmed that two weeks ago, his clients had issued a summons calling on Ramaphosa to apologise for the “toxic collusion” that, his clients say, led to the massacre, and to compensate the injured and arrested. While the Marikana commission found that Ramaphosa could not be held responsible, there were allegations, during the inquiry, that he played a central role, mediating on behalf of Lonmin, to add pressure to forcefully end the strike.
The initial combined summons for compensation on behalf of the injured and arrested mineworkers, named President Jacob Zuma, Minister of Police Nathi Nhleko, and the national director of public prosecutions, as respondents in their quest for R3 million to be paid to each of the 275 mineworkers.
“I wish to inform the House that a summons has been issued against me in my personal capacity, and two other parties arising from the events at Marikana in August 2012,” said Ramaphosa in Parliament on Thursday. “As a consequence, and on the basis of legal advice, I have sought and obtained, I have informed the secretary of Cabinet that it would not be appropriate for me to be involved in the process I have referred to announced by the president on 29 September 2015.”
The process that Ramaphosa cannot be involved in, relates to the compensation of the dependants, and the injured and arrested mineworkers of Marikana. In September, after both the families of 37 people killed in Marikana, and the injured and arrested mineworkers, had lodged compensation claims, Zuma said, “What happened at Marikana hurt the whole nation, and the time has come for healing to begin.”
The president continued, “With that in mind, government is exploring initiating an alternative dispute resolution process to expedite the processing of all claims arising from the tragic incidents of August 2012. A judge, assisted by experts, will be asked to lead this process in order to reinforce its independence. Government will engage with the legal representatives of claimants, and encourage them to use this process. To the extent that some do not lend their cooperation, or it is not possible to resolve claims through mediation, government will seek to do so through the court process.”
It is no surprise that the injured and arrested mineworkers have issued a summons against Ramaphosa. During the commission their advocate, Dali Mpofu, was adamant Ramaphosa should be charged with murder. More shocking is that since Zuma announced “an alternative dispute resolution process to expedite the processing of all claims” there has been no communication with the lawyers of the victims about a settlement. Claims were lodged in August, after retired judge Ian Farlam found it was not in the commission’s remit to advise on compensation.
Lawyers from the Socio-Economic Rights Institute of South Africa (SERI), Legal Resources Centre (LRC) and Wits Law Clinic have filed claims for 37 families of those killed, including 326 dependants who relied on the mineworkers’ wages, based on loss of financial support, grief, medical expenses, and loss of family life. The 275 injured and arrested mineworkers, filed compensation claims for assault and police brutality, unlawful arrest and malicious prosecution.
The state did not oppose those cases, asking for more time to respond, until Zuma eventually announced the possibility of an out-of-court settlement. Both the families of those killed, and the injured and arrested, have been hoping for a settlement so they can avoid spending years in court, after they have already sat through the Marikana inquiry for two years, constantly reliving the horrors of August 2012.
“We’ve received nothing in terms of settlement, and at this time it seems we are following the court process,” said SERI’s Kathleen Hardy, on behalf of the families, on Thursday. Nkome said, “The last time that we heard from them [the state] was when they issued a press statement that the claims should be settled as soon as possible.” So the last time he heard anything official about compensation, was when Zuma announced the possibility in September.
The state is obviously playing games. It’s toying with the victims the victims of a massacre in a case it’s almost certain to lose. Unless it provides a way forward in the next week, the matter will almost certainly end up in court, and Zuma will continue to prolong the pain he said should end. DM
Photo: Striking Marikana miners gathered to have a meeting to discuss the deaths of some 34 of their colleagues two days previously. They were addressed by strike leaders and the expelled African National Congress youth league leader Julius Malema. August 18, 2012. Photo Greg Marinovich.