South Africa opens inquiry into mine deaths

Striking mine workers armed with machetes, sticks, and spears march to a smelter plant at the Lonmin Platinum Mine near Rustenburg, on September 12, 2012.   | Photo Credit: Denis Farrell

A formal commission of inquiry opened its investigation Monday into the violence at Lonmin’s Marikana platinum mine in South Africa that led to the death of 46 people.

The commission, composed of a panel of three legal experts, started off with public hearings at the civic centre in Rustenburg, the town closest to the mine.

The panel then visited the mine, where they were met by a small group of protesters demanding that the perpetrators of violence be held accountable.

Chaired by retired Supreme Court of Appeals Judge Ian Farlam, the commission has been asked to look into the behaviour of all parties involved in the clashes, including the police, Lonmin officials, trade unionists and the miners themselves.

Mr. Farlam said he hoped his commission would uncover the truth about what happened and “be part of the healing process.” President Jacob Zuma appointed the commission after police shot dead 34 striking miners during a protest at the mine on August 16, in the worst police violence since the end of Apartheid in 1994. A further 10 people, including two policemen, were killed in the lead-up to that event, while two others have died since.

The commission is meant to present its final analysis early next year.

While workers at Lonmmin agreed in September to return to work after a six week wildcat strike, illegal strikes continue to plague the mining sector in South Africa.

Gold, platinum, chrome and other mines have been affected by a wave of unrest sparked by workers demanding higher wages. Investor confidence has been shaken by the events.

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Printable version | Nov 27, 2021 4:41:22 AM |

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