Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa has opened up about the incident in Marikana where 34 mineworkers were killed, saying ANC stalwart Winnie Madikizela-Mandela has offered to take him there to address the matter.
After addressing Rhodes University students on Sunday, a student asked Ramaphosa to “appeal” to his conscience and address the role he played in the Marikana incident and how he plans to prevent more killings of mineworkers.
In his lengthy response, Ramaphosa said he participated in trying to stop further deaths from happening.
“Ten workers had been killed, and my intervention was to say: ‘There is a disaster looming, more workers are being killed and are going to be killed.’ My role was to try and stop further deaths from happening,” he said.
The deputy president said his actions in Marikana were influenced by the horrific scenes he had seen before, where workers had been hacked to death, their eyes gouged out and hearts ripped out.
“That horrified me as a person, and I then said we need to prevent this from happening,” he said.
He further apologised for the “unfortunate language” he used in the messages he sent out. The day before the Marikana massacre, Ramaphosa allegedly sent an email to Lonmin management and government officials, saying what was happening was “plainly and dastardly criminal acts” and must be characterised as such.
“I have apologised, and I do apologise that I did not use appropriate language. But I never had the intention to have 34 other mining workers killed. I worked for nine years for mineworkers, serving them diligently, getting everything done to increase their wages, their living conditions and for nine years of my life, I put everything that I had to advance the interests of mining workers.
“It could never be that I would then say: ‘Thirty-four mineworkers should be killed,’ and I have apologised,” he said.
He further told the gathering that Winnie Madikizela-Mandela had offered to take him back to Marikana to address the issue.
“Mam’ Winnie has said to me: ‘Deputy president, this matter has to be addressed, I want to take you, I want to go with you to Marikana.'”
He said he would accept Madikizela-Mandela’s counsel and go to Marikana with her.