Marikana inquiry gets off to a shaky start
The Marikana commission of inquiry, tasked to investigate the killing of 34 miners, got off to a shaky start yesterday.
Advocates representing the families of the slain miners argued that relatives had not been properly briefed about the commission.
Senior advocates Dumisa Ntsebeza and Dali Mpofu both called for the commission to be postponed for two weeks to ad dress the lack of consultation.
Ntsebeza is representing 20 Eastern Cape families while Mpofu is representing the 270 mineworkers who were detained after shoot-out.
He is also representing the family of Pauline Masutlho, a woman who was shot and wounded during a police raid on Nkaneng.
She died two weeks ago following surgery.
During yesterday morning's proceedings, advocate Ishmael Maluleke - representing the police - told the commission that the ballistic reports of the incident were not ready and would not be ready for some time.
After arguments, commission chairman Ian Farlam, a retired judge, said he could not afford to postpone proceedings and called for all material evidence to be made available.
Farlam said the Department of Social Development was providing financial assistance to enable affected families to attend the hearings.
He said social workers would be assigned to each of the families.
"The country weeps with the families of the victims, but we cannot afford to postpone the matter for [14 days]," he said.
The commission is to look into four key areas:
- The events that happened between August 9 and August 16;
- The employer's policies and conditions of employment;
- The trade unions and the actions of non-unionised miners who took part in the event; and
- The conduct of the police, the department of Mineral Resources and Labour.
Later in the day, Farlam led commissioners, lawyers, police officers and union officials to the mine's informal settlement to do a "site inspection" to familiarise themselves with the murder scenes.
Captain Apollo Mohlaki, a forensics expert from the North West's crime scene investigation team, showed the commission where the police retrieved the bodies of the slain strikers.
Mohlaki, who is also expected to testify when the hearings commence tomorrow, told the commission that 16 of the bodies recovered after the massacre were located in a single area - around a kraal situated 100m away from the Marikana "koppie".
Also forming part of the commission is veteran human rights lawyer George Bizos, who is representing the Legal Resource Centre.
Mbuyiseli Madlanga heads the evidence team.