Victims of the violence involving police and striking miners at Lonmin's Marikana mine in 2012 have issued a court summons for Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, the presidency said on Thursday.
The vortex of violence around the Marikana mine during a wildcat strike in August, 2012, culminated in the police shooting 34 striking miners dead.
The total death toll from the violence was 44 with 10 people killed in clashes leading up to the shooting, including two police officers.
Ramaphosa was a director and shareholder at Lonmin at the time of the shootings and was involved in email exchanges with authorities in the days leading up to the shooting. He has denied accusations he pressed for a police crackdown.
"A Summons has indeed been served on lawyers of Deputy President Ramaphosa arising from the Marikana tragedy. Ramaphosa has instructed his lawyers to defend the action," a statement from the presidency said.
Victims of the shooting include relatives of those killed, those wounded and others who were arrested. The groups are represented by different groups of lawyers. It was not immediately clear which lawyers filed the summons.
Families of some of the South African miners killed filed a separate civil suit against the minister of police in August.
A long-awaited investigation into the killings, released in June by President Jacob Zuma, found Ramaphosa was not responsible for the shootings. The report largely blamed Lonmin, the police and unions for the "tragedy."