Marikana: Mthethwa accused of defending cops

Nathi Mthethwa testified this week about his role in the 2012 shootings.

Former Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa. Picture: GCIS.

JOHANNESBURG - Former Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa has been accused of defending the police's actions in Marikana and pushing for forceful action under political pressure.

Mthethwa, who is now the Minister of Arts and Culture, testified this week at the Farlam Commission of Inquiry about the role he played in the days leading up to the shooting which left 34 people dead on 16 August 2012.

A further 10 people, including some police officers, were killed in the lead-up to the incident.

President Jacob Zuma appointed the inquiry to investigate whether police were justified in using lethal force.

Police claim they opened fire on the group after coming under attack.

Mthethwa has been criticised for defending the police and referring to the protesters as anarchists.

He insisted there was no political pressure on him to take more forceful action in Marikana.

He further spoke about the role played by Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, who was a board member at Lonmin at the time.

Mthethwa said he only ensured that there were enough officers on the ground, after then-Lonmin director Cyril Ramaphosa called him raising this concern.

But a video clip showing Mthethwa praising the officers after the shooting has been criticised by legal teams who are representing the miners and families of the victims.

"We must ensure that at all times we do everything in our power so anarchists don't think that South Africa is their stage."

While Mthethwa tried to distance himself from the police's conduct, he maintained that people shouldn't have been killed and that it's up to the commission to discover what went wrong.

Mthethwa was excused from the stand yesterday and the commission will resume on Thursday with the cross-examination of police witness, Mr X.