Marikana Widows Ban Cyril Ramaphosa From Attending 5th Anniversary: Here’s Why


5 years after the infamous killings of striking mine workers in Rustenburg, Marikana widows have finally shut the door against Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa.

Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) president Joseph Mathunjwa confirmed that Marikana widows have asked Ramaphosa not to attend the 5th commemoration of the tragedy.

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Mathunjwa affirmed this while speaking at a press conference in Rosebank, in Johannesburg on Thursday. He said the widows voiced out their disapproval for Ramaphosa’s presence in a meeting with Amcu.

Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa is expected to attend next week’s Marikana commemoration. The visit will be his first appearance in the area since the end of the 2012 massacre.

At the time of the Marikana strike, he was a non-executive director at Lonmin – a British producer of platinum group metals. The mining company was at the centre of the dispute with workers.

Ramaphosa was accused by Marikana community of using his political clout to endorse the killing of over 30 striking mine workers at a koppie near Nkaneng by the police.

Marikana widows

Submissions made to the Farlam Commission indicated that Cyril Ramaphosa, from his position on the board of Lonmin, could have argued for negotiation, even for a better deal for the workers instead of egging on the police to open fire.

From a chain of emails released to the Farlam inquiry, it was found that he argued for the police to move in. His message to fellow directors, read: “The terrible events that have unfolded cannot be described as a labour dispute. They are plainly dastardly criminal and must be characterised as such… There needs to be concomitant action to address this situation.”

In the run-up to the official inauguration of his presidential campaign – precisely in May – Ramaphosa publicly apologized for his roles in the massacre.

He tendered the apology at Rhodes University while addressing students at the event. He admitted that he was wrong to have asserted that the Lonmin mine strike was all about “criminal acts and must be characterised as such”.

“…I may well have used unfortunate language in the messages I sent out and for which I have apologized, and for which I do apologize that I did not use appropriate language,” he said.

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The Marikana massacre which took place between 10 August and 20 September 2012, was the single most lethal use of force by South African police against civilians since 1960.

The shootings have been compared to the Sharpeville massacre in 1960 which led to the death of 69 people after the police opened fire on a protesting crowd of about 5,000 to 7,000.