21 September 2012

South Africa: Marikana Probe to Begin Next Month

Photo: Werner Beukes/SAPA
File photo: A policeman keeps an eye on striking miners.

Pretoria — A judicial inquiry into the shooting at Lonmin's Marikana mine would begin on October 1 and be completed within four months, Justice Minister Jeff Radebe said on Friday.

Public hearings on the matter would be held in the Rustenburg Civic Centre in North West, he told reporters in Pretoria.

"[President Jacob Zuma] has given very tight time-frames for this commission, namely of finalising its investigation within four months from the date of commencement of its work."

Justice director general Nonkululeko Sindane said the start-up cost for the commission amounted to about R24 million.

Zuma announced the three-member judicial commission of inquiry last month to probe the mine violence in which 44 people had died in Marikana in North West. Two more people have died since then.

The commission will be chaired by retired Judge Ian Farlam,

It would consider, among other things, whether Lonmin responded appropriately to the threat of an outbreak of violence on its premises.

"These tragic incidents dominated our media space and also made news headlines internationally," said Radebe.

He said Zuma deemed it important that the commission investigate the incidents, which were of public, national, and international interest, and make appropriate findings and recommendations.

"The return of the striking miners to work [on Thursday] is an important milestone in our collective endeavour to restore peace and harmony in the beleaguered community."

The commission has been mandated to determine the roles played by Lonmin, the police, the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu), and the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM).

Also, the commission will determine the role played by the department of mineral resources or any other government department or agency, and the conduct of individuals and groupings in promoting a situation of conflict and confrontation which could have given rise to the shootings.

Radebe said Zuma would soon promulgate regulations which would confer powers on the commission to enable it to execute its task.

"The regulations are in its final stages. They are expected to be signed by the president today and released on Monday."

The regulations would also empower the commission to gather evidence by conferring on it powers such as being allowed to enter and search premises, secure the attendance of witnesses and compel the production of documents.

Farlam has designated a counsel as evidence leaders who would evaluate and present evidence before the commission.

The counsel consisted of advocates Mbuyiseli Madlanga, Mathew Chaskalson, Geoff Budlender, Johannes Nxusana, and Charles Wessley.

Radebe said researchers should start with their investigative work this coming week.

"The commissioners have commenced with their work and have had a few meetings, including the meeting with [involved] parties."

The families of the Lonmin victims had been urged to attend the hearings.

Regarding the budget for the commission, Radebe said all the different needs had been costed, and his department was liaising with the National Treasury to request the funds required for the work of the commission.

"Pending an allocation by the National Treasury, the department has earmarked funds from our baseline allocation for the start-up operations."

Radebe said the commission had an additional task of bringing hope and comfort to the bereaved and other affected families.

"We will not shirk our responsibility in providing the best enabling environment for the commission to best fulfil its mandate," he said.

"We owe the unfortunate victims of these tragic incident no less."

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