South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said Tuesday he wanted “healing and atonement” following the 2012 massacre of 34 striking workers at a mine run by Lonmin where he was a director. “I would like to use this opportunity to address what role I played in my capacity as a Lonmin director in the events of that tragic week,” said Ramaphosa in an address to parliament in Cape Town.
“I am determined to play whatever role I can in the process of healing and atonement for what happened at Marikana,” a platinum mine northwest of Johannesburg. The 34 striking mine workers were killed by police at the mine operated by London-listed Lonmin, where he was then a non-executive director.
Opposition parties and lawyers for the victims and their families have insisted that he played a part in the bloodshed after pressing the authorities to crack down on the strikers. Shortly before the massacre Ramaphosa accused striking mine workers of “dastardly criminal” behavior.
But in 2015, a judicial commission of inquiry into the killings exonerated Ramaphosa. It was the worst police violence in South Africa since the end of apartheid in 1994. The official inquiry established by former president Jacob Zuma put much of the blame for the deaths on police tactics used to disperse the 3,000 strikers.