Inquiry to begin on S African miners' deaths

An official inquiry is set to open investigating the deaths of at least 34 miners who were killed by police in Marikana.

    Inquiry to begin on S African miners' deaths
    Weeks of protest after miners went on strike demanding a pay increase led to the deaths of 46 people [Reuters]

    The South African government has set up a commission to open an inquiry into the police killing of at least 34 miners during one day of violence in August, hoping to uncover how a dispute over pay ended in a deadly confrontation.

    The commission, appointed by President Jacob Zuma, will begin proceedings at the Rustenburg Civic Centre on Monday, near the mine where police shot dead striking platinum workers on August 16.

    Led by former Supreme Court of Appeals judge Ian Gordon Farlam, the commission has been asked to "investigate matters of public, national and international concern arising out of the tragic incidents at the Lonmin Mine in Marikana".

    IN DEPTH

    Al Jazeera's in-depth coverage of the mining protests in Marikana and elsewhere in South Africa:

     Feature: Sordid tale behind mine strife 
     Feature: Will Marikana resurrect Julius Malema?
     Opinion: Politics of law and order in post-Apartheid SA 

     Q&A: Marikana strikes

    The police, miners, unions, government and the mine's owners will be questioned about their conduct during the unrest.

    Al Jazeera's Tania Page, reporting from Rustenburg, said that people were pleased the commission was set up, "especially so soon after the course of events. They have burning questions over how these events happened."

    Our correspondent went on to say that many are approaching the commission with an open mind, and the judge himself is taking an active approach to the inquiry.

    "The judge wants to go to Marikana, and visit the hostels and the areas where people live," she said. "This is part of the reason why the unrest spread, because of the poor living conditions."

    Miners demanding a large pay increase began striking on August 10. In the following weeks of violence, a total of 46 people were killed, including two police officers.

    Graphic footage of the events on August 16, which the commission is focusing on, shocked the world, raising parallels to brutality under the white apartheid regime. The police action has been described as the worst crackdown since the country transitioned to democracy in 1994.

    Under the current mandate, the commission has four months to complete its work and a further month to present its final report.

    It will also send interim reports to President Zuma once a month. The first report is due by October 12.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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