Fears that inquiry drags into 2014

2013-04-25 22:29
(Picture: Sapa)

(Picture: Sapa)

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Rustenburg - Lawyers at the hearings into the Marikana unrest are worried that the proceedings will drag on until 2014, the Farlam Commission on Inquiry heard on Thursday.

Lonmin mine's lawyer, Schalk Burger, told the commission that according to his and other lawyers' observations, it could take another eight months for all the witness to be heard.

"This means phase two of the commission could only start in 2014," he said.

He was speaking at the hearings in Rustenburg.

The commission is investigating the deaths of people killed in Marikana last year when police shot dead 34 striking mineworkers on 16 August, while 10 people were killed in the preceding week.

Burger raised his concerns after Major General Charl Annandale delivered his evidence-in-chief on Thursday.

Annandale was the head of the special tactical operations team in Marikana.

He delivered his evidence, led by Ishmael Semenya for the SA Police Service (SAPS). The process took four days.

Burger said the manner in which evidence-in-chief and cross-examination were done up until now had added to the delays.

He stressed that the dragging out of the proceedings was unfair on everyone involved.

"It's unfair to the families. This prolongs their pain... meanwhile, their funding is being threatened," said Burger.

He claimed this was also unfair on the SAPS, the Lonmin mine and the public who were awaiting to hear the outcomes of the commission.

Lawyers not paid

One of the lawyers for the arrested and injured miners, Muzi Msimang, said they were also negatively affected by this as lawyers were not getting paid for their services.

"We are working without being paid a dime... and if we withdraw we will face [criticism], " he said.

George Bizos for the Legal Resources Centre and the Bench Marks Foundation also raised his concerns.

"Our resources are not unlimited," he said.

The commission was supposed to have wrapped up in January. An extension was granted to the end of May.

Chairperson of the commission, retired Judge Ian Farlam advised that the lawyers discuss the matter and present a way forward.

Earlier in proceedings, Farlam said Dali Mpofu, for the injured and arrested miners, was expected to rejoin the commission on Friday.

Mpofu has been absent from proceedings for the last three weeks after he was stabbed in an apparent robbery in East London.

Oral arguments about whether to move the commission from Rustenburg to Pretoria or Johannesburg would now take place on Friday.

Mpofu brought the application for the move in February, submitting that he and his team were spending a significant amount of money and time on travelling.

Karabo Kgoroeadira for the Bapo ba Mogale community has opposed the move.

SAPS review tactical strategy

Meanwhile, during delivery of his evidence-in-chief on Thursday, Annandale said police were reviewing several operational aspects following the Marikana wage-related unrest.

He said R500 000 had been put into purchasing new camera equipment, hard drives and overheard projectors for police.

Training on how to use the equipment would also be given.

This comes after police failed to properly capture the events that unfolded in Marikana.

Annandale told the commission during the week that one officer said he had forgotten to switch on his camera.

Another said he had experienced technical difficulties with the camera while others were withdrawn from the scene after they were reportedly threatened by the striking workers, who had labelled them as police spies.

The police was also working on rolling out a new digital radio communication system.

The new system would cost around R600m for each province.

In Marikana, police experienced difficulties in communicating through the radio system - which only used a single communication channel.

Evidence leader Geoff Budlender began questioning Annandale shortly before the commission adjourned on Thursday, and was expected to continue on Friday.

- SAPA
Read more on:    lonmin  |  police  |  ian farlam  |  george bizos  |  ishmael semenya  |  dali mpofu  |  mahikeng  |  marikana inquiry
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