'Political pressure led to Marikana shooting'

Advocate Dali Mpofu spent the day cross-examining former police minister Nathi Mthethwa.

FILE: Advocate Dali Mpofu said there was a chain of political pressure, from Rampahosa to Mthethwa. Picture: Vumani Mkhize/EWN.

PRETORIA - Political pressure was responsible for the deployment of more police officers to Marikana, Advocate Dali Mpofu told the Farlam Commission of Inquiry on Tuesday.

He said this ultimately led to the deaths of 34 protesters on 16 August 2012.

The commission, set up by President Jacob Zuma, is investigating the violence and deaths during a wage strike at the North West platinum mine.

A total of 34 striking miners were killed by police while another 10 bodies were found in the days leading up to the bloody shooting.

Mpofu is representing the surviving miners.

During proceedings in Centurion on Tuesday, he cross-examined former national police minister Nathi Mthethwa.

Mthethwa insists he had nothing do to with the police's operation on the day in question.

He said he received a call from then- Lonmin director Cyril Ramaphosa who told him there weren't enough police in Marikana.

Mthethwa said irrespective of who called him, he would've still checked with the national and provincial commissioners to ensure the situation was under control.

But Mpofu argued that Ramphosa's intention was to put pressure on government.

By name-dropping Mthethwa, the businessman put pressure on commissioners to take more forceful action, the advocate argued.

Mpofu maintained there was a chain of political pressure, from Rampahosa to Mthethwa and the commissioners, which ultimately trickled down to officers on the ground.

The former minister once again denied succumbing to pressure.

Mpofu then accused Mthethwa of not telling the truth.

Mthethwa was also criticised for praising police after the shooting and referring to the protesters as anarchists.

The ex-minister was pushed into apologising for the police's conduct in Marikana.

Advocate Dumisa Ntsebeza, who represents the families of the victims, said Mthethwa hadn't shown any remorse.

"What the families wanted to hear was that nothing in a democracy should justify the police killing their own people."

Mthethwa was excused from the stand.

The commission resumes on Thursday with the cross-examination of police witness, Mr X.