Amcu leader grilled in Marikana Inquiry

Amcu leader Joseph Mathunjwa said it is unfair that he is taking all the blame for the Marikana violence.

Amcu leader Joseph Mathunjwa said it is unfair that he is taking all the blame for the Marikana violence.

RUSTENBURG - Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) President Joseph Mathunjwa questioned Lonmin's motives for inviting him to Marikana, while blaming him for not being able to diffuse tensions.

He was cross-examined about his role in the days leading up to the August bloodbath, where 34 miners were gunned down in a clash with police.

The comments were made at the Marikana Commission of Inquiry, set up by President Jacob Zuma to investigate the August 16 shooting.

Workers were protesting for a minimum wage of R12,500, with the demonstrations often turning violent in the North West mining town.

Mathunjwa came under fire for becoming a negotiator between the miners and platinum producer Lonmin, apparently because he wanted a seat at the Bargaining Council.

Lonmin's legal representative, Advocate Schalk Burger, said Mathunjwa used the opportunity to get Amcu into the collective bargaining process.

But Mathunjwa denied this.

He said he was simply a messenger, but came under attack for doing his "very best" to restore peace.

"All our efforts are being crucified just because I availed myself to contribute in diffusing the situation."

According to Mathunjwa, he is certain he would also be blamed for not diffusing the situation had he not gone to Marikana to assist.

The hearing is taking place at the Rustenburg Civic Centre and is investigating if police were justified in using live ammunition to disperse the striking miners.

TRIBUTE TO CHASKALSON

The inquiry on Monday paid tribute to former Constitutional Court Chief Justice Aurthur Chaskalson.

He died on Saturday at the age of 81 at Johannesburg's Milpark Hospital.

Retired judge Ian Farlam, who is the chairperson of the inquiry, asked everyone in the auditorium to stand and observe a moment of silence in honour of Chaskalson.

He was the father of Advocate Matthew Chaskalson, who is one of the evidence leaders at the inquiry.

Proceedings were adjourned for half an hour as a token of respect.

Advocate George Bizos, who is representing some of the families of the victims, was not present at the inquiry on Monday.

He attended Chaskalson's funeral service at the West Park Cemetery.

Both Bizos and Chaskalson were instrumental in drafting South Africa's Constitution.