NEWS

Cyril Ramaphosa Is Still The 'Same Monster' Who Sparked The Lonmin Massacre, Says Released Marikana Activist

Napoleon Webster, released on bail after 200 days in jail, said his arrest was politically motivated and potentially a "plot by Cyril Ramaphosa".

02/08/2017 14:54 SAST | Updated 02/08/2017 15:45 SAST

Deputy president and presidential hopeful Cyril Ramaphosa should be charged, along with Lonmin, for causing the deaths of 34 mineworkers in the name of profit, released Marikana housing activist Napoleon Webster said on Wednesday.

"Nothing has changed in Marikana... and Cyril [Ramaphosa] is still the same monster who caused the Lonmin massacre," he said.

Speaking days after being released on bail following 202 days in jail on charges of murder, Webster again professed his innocence and reiterated his arrest was politically motivated. He claims he has been targeted for his activism in Marikana, especially for access to housing.

In December last year, Webster was charged with 13 other men for the murder of ANC councillor Sabata Petros Chale who was hacked to death with a machete in Marikana, Rustenburg. The housing activist and EFF member, however, said the case was a sham and multiple witnesses -- including documentary filmmaker Sipho Singiswa -- could confirm his innocence.

The Daily Maverick reported how it was impossible for Webster to be at the crime scene.

On Wednesday, Webster lambasted the criminal justice system saying there were no witnesses other than police in his bail hearing who, further, relied on hearsay in their testimonies. He said CCTV footage from a Shoprite camera at the scene proving his innocence could have been used as evidence but was refused by the court.

"The manager said he was willing to come and testify... he said he was with me and there were so many witnesses with me, so for me this is a political case".

Webster in June told the Mail & Guardian it was not the first time police had come after him, saying it is "because of the trouble I cause for the ANC and the government". A well-known activist in Marikana, he led an occupation of government-built houses in Marikana's Extension 2 on land donated by Lonmin.

"In 2016, when Jacob [Zuma] was meant to give out houses in Marikana, I mobilised the community and we chased him and the Premier away, then we allocated ourselves the houses," he said on Wednesday. "During our bail hearing, the police were talking about the houses... they focused on the houses and not the [alleged] murder."

He said at the time of arrest, Webster was told by a police officer they wanted to "blow [his] head off".

'Cyril is the darling of the media'
Webster called for Mineral Resources minister Mosebenzi Zwane to condemn mining companies exploiting workers and communities and suspend their licenses. He also expressed dismay at media coverage of Ramaphosa, saying he is being touted by journalists for the presidency of the ANC.

"I don't know whether you're taking part in trying to make sure he is president while forgetting about Marikana," he said. "As a victim of what Cyril [Ramaphosa] and Lonmin caused, it's bad that he has become a darling of media".

"Seventeen miners went on trial yesterday but we hear nothing about Cyril Ramaphosa being charged. We hear nothing about Lonmin being charged. We hear nothing said about the police. We know the business community loves Cyril but we don't want him in Marikana," he said.

Read: Ramaphosa Apologises For Role In Marikana Massacre

Webster said conditions in Marikana remain shocking, including poor sanitation, a continued housing crisis, and scant access to electricity and water. "People are protesting and nobody is covering," he said. "We know that soon for the 16th of August you will go there to try and do interviews for the commemoration. I challenge you [to go beyond this]. Whatever happened in August 2012 is still happening daily in Marikana."

'Criminal justice system is failing poor people'
Attorney for the Socio-Economic Rights Institute, Lindokuhle Mdabe, on Wednesday said it was a long battle for the civil society organisation to ensure Webster's release.

He criticised the administration of justice in Rustenburg, in particular the magistrate's court, saying delays were created by a broken stenotype machine which stalled SERI's appeal of Webster's rejection of bail in April. The organisation proceeded with incomplete documents and Webster was, ultimately, granted bail by the National Prosecuting Authority with specific conditions, including preventing his return to Marikana.

Webster also spoke about his 202 days in prison, saying he was almost killed twice by gangs in what could potentially be an attempted political hit.

Going forward, he said he would do his utmost to help the 13 individuals still in prison. He said his priority is to fight back. "I feel this is a plot by Cyril [Ramaphosa] to try and destabilise Marikana and help mining companies to exploit us more," he said.

Mdabe said SERI is expected to go to trial with Webster on September 12.