South Africa: Marikana inquiry postponed


Striking miners listen to a speaker after they secured a 22 percent pay hike from London-listed Lonmin platinum mine in Marikana on September 18, 2012. The miners will resume work on September 20, ending a deadly six-week wildcat strike which started on August 10 and spread to other platinum and gold mines in the country, triggering growing concerns that the industrial action would dent the economy of Africa's wealthiest country.



JOHANNESBURG, South Africa — A judicial commission of inquiry looking into the killings at the Marikana platinum mine has been postponed until October 22.

The commission had intended to start allowing evidence Wednesday, but instead has been delayed so that victims' families can travel to the hearing, which is being held at the Rustenburg Civic Center near the mine site northwest of Johannesburg.

Many of the miners are from villages in the Eastern Cape province, hundreds of miles away. Some are from Lesotho, a landlocked country within the borders of eastern South Africa.

Lawyers had argued that relatives of victims must be in attendance before footage of the shootings and evidence from forensic experts and crime scene investigators is presented, the South African Press Association reported.

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The Marikana inquiry was established by President Jacob Zuma after the August 16 shootings of 34 people by police near the Lonmin-owned mine.

The commission, led by retired judge Ian Farlam, has been tasked with determining the roles played by police, unions, the mine's management and government ministries in the tragedy.

Eyewitness News said Wednesday that the families of only five of the 34 miners shot dead by police had made it to the hearing.

Lawyer Dumisa Ntsebeza told EWN that the families require transport, accommodation and food for the duration of the inquiry.

A total of 46 people were killed in weeks of violent protests at the mine, including 10 deaths in the week leading up to the police mass shooting, and two later deaths that fall outside the scope of the inquiry.

The commission is expected to complete its investigation within four months.

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