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Senior Lonmin official apologises to Mathunjwa

Barnard Mokwena described Joseph Mathunjwa as a liar on national radio.

FILE: President Jacob Zuma appointed the Farlam Commission of Inquiry to investigate whether police were justified in using lethal force on 16 August 2012. Picture: Gia Nicolaides/EWN.

PRETORIA - A senior Lonmin official has been called to apologise to Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) President Joseph Mathunjwa for describing him as a liar on national radio.

Barnard Mokwena,Lonmin's executive president of human capital and external affairs during the Marikana strike in 2012, testified at the commission in Centurion about the role he played in the days leading up to the 16 August, 2012 shooting in which 34 miners were gunned down by police.

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

Ten people were also killed in the days leading to the shooting including a mineworker, strikers, two Lonmin security guards and two policemen.

Commission chairperson Ian Farlam said Mokwena twisted the truth about what Mathunjwa had said publically.

Mokwena made the statement during a morning radio show, accusing Mathunjwa of saying that the striking workers were "sinister forces not to be engaged".

He told the commission last Friday that he had evidence to prove his accusation but Farlam dismissed this.

Mokwena subsequently withdrew his statement.

At the same time, Mokwena said Lonmin refused to reopen wage negations with striking miners in 2012 because it would have been illegal.

During proceedings over the past two years, questions have been raised about Lonmin's reluctance to hear the miners wage demands, when they started the unprotected strike in Marikana.

Mokwena said they were already a year into a wage agreement which had been signed and accepted.

He added he's not surprised that the workers didn't want to go through the National Union of Mineworkers because they had already discovered that the union had lost touch with its members.

The commission is set to wrap up proceedings at the end of September before handing over recommendations to the president.

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