Mpofu questions NUM, Lonmin 'unholy alliance'

Dali Mpofu has accused NUM of working with Lonmin to stop Amcu strikers.

Dali Mpofu and Dumisa Ntsebeza chat during a break at the Farlam Commission of Inquiry on 3 Oct 2012. Picture: Taurai Maduna/EWN.

RUSTENBURG - Advocate Dali Mpofu has come under fire at the Farlam Commission of Inquiry for suggesting that the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) has a reputation for violence.

NUM president Senzeni Zokwana was cross-examined about the union's role in the days leading up to the police shooting in Marikana during the Lonmin miners' strike.

On 16 August 2012, 34 miners were killed and 78 others injured when police used live ammunition to disperse the workers who were protesting for higher wages and better working and living conditions.

Mpofu, who is representing the miners at the inquiry, referred to a statement made by Zokwana about NUM being a "pig devouring its children".

"I am going to demonstrate that the rosy picture that was painted by the witness [Zokwana] in respect of his union's relationship with violence was false."

But Zokwana says this has been taken out of context.

"[Mpofu] does not understand the context in which that statement was made, and if you do that in this forum then you may come to wrong conclusions."

Legal teams at the inquiry objected to Mpofu's questioning.

Mpofu claimed the NUM had an "unholy alliance" with platinum mine Lonmin and worked with mining bosses to crush the strike, one it considered to be backed by the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu), a rival union.

The advocate claimed the NUM believed it was an Amcu strike and the union provoked miners by encouraging them to go back to work. He said the NUM considered the protesters criminals and this might have contributed to their animosity towards the union.

Earlier, NUM said it does not consider Amcu its enemy, despite claims that it conspired with Lonmin to stop the illegal strike.