Lawyers consider inquiry postponement

2012-10-03 11:39
(File, AP)

(File, AP)

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Rustenburg - Lawyers involved in the judicial inquiry into the Lonmin mine shooting were on Wednesday discussing whether the proceedings should be postponed.

Human rights lawyer George Bizos argued that preparing for the inquiry without hearing the police version of what happened on August 16 was difficult.

"It can't prejudice the families if their [legal] team conveys the police's version to them," Bizos said.
"We should not miss that opportunity today."

Bizos was representing the Legal Resources Centre and the Bench Marks Foundation at the Marikana commission of inquiry.

He said police should not give evidence, but merely state their version of events.

However, the SA Police Service's lawyers said they were not ready to give an account.

Miners shot dead among rocks

Thirty-four miners were killed and 78 wounded when police opened fire on them while trying to disperse protesters near Lonmin's platinum mine in Marikana on August 16.

According to some reports since the event, several miners were shot dead among rocks a distance from where the police clashed with main group of striking workers.

Advocate Dumisa Ntsebeza earlier on Wednesday asked the commission, chaired by retired judge Ian Farlam, to not proceed without the 20 Eastern Cape families of some of the miners killed.

"This commission is about dead people," Ntsebeza said.

"I would be very concerned if the relatives of those who died were absolutely absent."

On Monday, Farlam rejected an application by Ntsebeza to postpone the inquiry for two weeks so the families could come to Rustenburg. Farlam told Ntsebeza the social development department was arranging to bring the families to the hearing.

At the start of public hearings on Wednesday morning Farlam said all parties would be given the opportunity to state their version of the shooting.

Evidence-leading advocate Mbuyiseli Madlanga agreed with postponing the inquiry, but in order not to lose time the legal representatives should remain to chart a way forward.

Proof of identity

He said his colleagues Matthew Chaskalson and Charles Wessely had seen the footage of the shooting, that was apparently six hours long.

Chaskalson said he was ready to hand over the post-mortem reports of 31 of the dead miners.

"One of the post-mortems is still outstanding because the doctor needs to settle the draft," he told the commission.

"Two reports furnished to us... we are not satisfied with the identification... there is no satisfactory proof [of the identity]," he said.

Chaskalson said only three of the post-mortem reports for the 10 people killed before the August 16 shooting were available. The other seven still needed to be located.

- SAPA

Read more on:    lonmin  |  police  |  ian farlam  |  george bizos  |  mahikeng  |  mining unrest  |  mining  |  marikana inquiry
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