Pretoria — Former mineral resources minister Susan Shabangu denied that Cyril Ramaphosa influenced her into seeing the Marikana strike as a criminal issue.
"It is not true," Shabangu told the Farlam Commission of Inquiry in Pretoria into the deaths of 44 people during the strike in August 2012.
Nicole Lewis, for the widows of miners killed in the unrest, had told Shabangu that Ramaphosa, a non-executive Lonmin director at the time, and now deputy president, had testified to getting Shabangu to change or abandon her characterisation of the unrest.
"He never influenced me. He never persuaded me. He couldn't do that in a space of five minutes," she said, referring to a brief meeting she had had with Ramaphosa on August 15, 2012.
Earlier, evidence leader Kameshni Pillay read from an e-mail sent by Ramaphosa to Lonmin officials about a conversation he had with Shabangu on the Marikana unrest.
Ramaphosa wrote: "She [Shabangu] agrees that what we are going through is not a labour dispute but a criminal act. She will correct her characterisation of what we are experiencing."
Shabangu told the commission Ramaphosa relayed incorrect reports to his Lonmin colleagues.
"He was the one who was under pressure and he wanted his colleagues to see that he is doing well," said Shabangu.
Throughout her testimony, Shabangu continuously denied referring to the Marikana unrest as a "criminal act".
"I disagree with what is written here that I'll correct my characterisation," she said, referring to the e-mail.
She said she believed while people had died in the strike-related violence, it was still a labour issue.
The commission, chaired by retired judge Ian Farlam, is investigating the deaths of the 44 people during the strike-related unrest at Lonmin's platinum mining operations at Marikana, near Rustenburg, North West, in August 2012.
Thirty-four people, mostly striking mineworkers, were shot dead in a clash with police on August 16, 2012. Over 70 were wounded and over 200 were arrested. Police were apparently trying to disperse them.
In the preceding week 10 people, including two policemen and two Lonmin security guards, were killed.