15 July 2014

South Africa: Marikana Commission - Mthethwa Chooses Middle Road

Photo: SAPA stringer
Armoured police patrol Nkaneng near Lonmin's Marikana mine in the North West (file photo).


Former police minister Nathi Mthethwa was confident on his first day at the Marikana Commission of Inquiry. His testimony is crucial in understanding whether political influence played a role in the deaths of 44 people. Mthethwa, now arts and culture minister, has been steadfast in his defence, but can he keep it up?

Frustrated by the pace of Advocate George Bizos' cross-examination and the accusations levelled against him, Mthethwa corrected the lawyer on a point of pronunciation. "Sell-e," pronounced Bizos. "Cele," a confident Mthethwa accentuated the click.

Almost two years after the Marikana massacre and a year and a half into the Commission, who is responsible for the 44 deaths has been waded down in thousands of pages of transcripts and legalese that makes the Oscar trial look simple. But Nathi Mthethwa's testimony is crucial in understanding what happened that day and finding justice. He was the elected representative responsible for the function of national policing and is embroiled in allegations of influencing the SAPS response to the situation.

The Commission has heard that there were no good reasons for the police to have cracked down on the miners on the afternoon of 16 August. It was...

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