Inquiry to Probe Lonmin, Police and Unions in Wake of Marikana Violence

Zuma Lonmin

President Jacob Zuma announced that a three-member judicial commission of inquiry has been created to probe the mine violence which occurred last week during which 44 people died in Marikana in the North West Province.

The commission’s mandate, Zuma said, would be to probe the conduct of Lonmin, the mining company at the centre of the controversy. It would be considering whether Lonmin responded appropriately to the threat of violence on its premises and if it exercised its best endeavours to resolve any disputes that came up.

The conduct of the South African Police Service will also be examined by the commission to determine whether the use of force was reasonable and justifiable. There has been a public outcry over whether it was necessary for the police to disperse the crowd of oncoming protesters using force.

Last Thursday 34 striking workers were shot dead and 78 were wounded in the confrontation between themselves and the police. This was not the beginning of the violence however as a further 10 people had been killed in the preceding week, including two police officers and two security guards.

Zuma stated that the commission would also be probing the conduct of the unions involved in the strike, the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu), as their rivalry has been considered to have played a part in the escalation of violence.

The commission will be chaired by retired Supreme Court of Appeal judge Ian Farlam. Farlam will be joined by senior advocates Bantubonke Tokota and Pingla Hemraj, both of whom have acted as judges during the careers.

Zuma said that the commission has been given four months to complete its work and a final report would have to be submitted within a month of its completion. During these four months, the commission will have all the necessary powers required to gather all the facts, including the power to enter and search premises, secure the attendance of witnesses and compel the production of documents.

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