President Cyril Ramaphosa has welcomed the judgment by the Johannesburg high court last week where he was being sued by mineworkers who worked for Lonmin during the Marikana massacre in 2012.
The workers asked the court to find that Ramaphosa and Lonmin, which has since been acquired by Sibanye-Stillwater, were liable for the actions of the police who shot dead 34 workers near the Nkaneng informal settlement in Marikana near Rustenburg on August 16 2012 during a violent wildcat strike.
The presidency said the court held that the plaintiffs’ particulars of claim were legally flawed in a series of respects.
Four aspects of the judgment needed to be emphasised.
“First, the high court agreed with the president’s arguments and held that the plaintiffs had not established that the president bore any legal duty in relation to the Marikana tragedy.”
The court made no finding that Ramaphosa was the cause of harmful conduct.
“The proceedings were not a trial and no evidence was led. The court was merely engaged in a legal debate regarding whether the plaintiffs’ allegations complied with the law.”
Second, the court rejected the plaintiffs’ argument that certain email communications from Ramaphosa called for the murder of striking workers.
“The judgment stated that the plaintiffs’ argument against the president ‘is not only far-fetched, but also irreconcilable within the context of the email communication contents as a whole’,” the presidency said.
Third, the high court agreed with Ramaphosa that there was no factual basis pleaded for the allegation that collusion between him, government and the senior police officers would have led to deaths of workers.
“Fourth, on the allegations that President Ramaphosa owed a duty of care to the plaintiffs due to his role as director of Lonmin, the high court agreed with the president that the allegation was incorrect as a matter of law.”
In the judgment the court said the allegations pleaded did not show Ramaphosa owed the plaintiffs legal duties and he therefore could not in law incur liability to the plaintiffs in delict in his capacity as director of Lonmin or in pursuit of his personal interests and those of Lonmin.
The tragic events of August 2012 in Marikana that led to the death of 44 people remained one of the most distressing moments of the post 1994 democratic era and a blight on SA’s contemporary history. The violence and killings should have never happened, the presidency said.
“Disturbingly, is the ongoing politicisation of this tragedy leading to the unfair targeting and isolate [and] allocation of responsibility to the president.”
Others had sought to create a false impression that Ramaphosa bore liability for the killings.