Ramaphosa in the dock as families of Marikana victims want revenge in court

By Paul Vecchiatto

(Bloomberg) — South African Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa has been summoned by more than 300 victims of a shooting by police at Lonmin Plc’s Marikana platinum mine three years ago, according to a spokesman from his office who declined to be identified in line with policy.

Ramaphosa has instructed his lawyers to “defend the action,” according to an e-mailed statement from the South African presidency on Thursday.

Marikana massacre
Policemen keep watch over striking miners after they were shot outside Lonmin’s Marikana mine in August 2012. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko/Files

Violence at the mine in August 2012 that erupted from a dispute over pay left 44 people dead — including 34 shot dead by police on a single day. Ramaphosa was a non-executive director of Lonmin at the time of the killings and chairman of Shanduka Group Ltd., which indirectly held a 9 percent stake in two of Lonmin’s South African units.

Ramaphosa, 62, was cleared of blame for the police shooting at Marikana in a report by a commission of inquiry released in June, which criticized the police’s handling of the situation and said prosecutors should consider charging them. In July, South Africa’s second-largest opposition party, the Economic Freedom Fighters, laid murder charges against Ramaphosa over the deaths of the workers.

Ramaphosa on Thursday declined to answer a lawmaker’s question about compensation for the families of the slain miners because of the civil suit, Johannesburg-based Business Day reported on Friday.

The key for Ramaphosa to become the next president is to win the leadership of the African National Congress, which has ruled South Africa since the end of apartheid in 1994, at its national conference in 2017. Under party rules, the winner will be its presidential candidate when Jacob Zuma steps down in 2019 after serving a maximum two terms.

Dali Mpofu, a lawyer for the families of the some of the slain miners and those who were injured during the police shooting, didn’t answer several calls and text messages to his mobile phone.

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