Marikana commission to hear testimony

2012-10-02 22:27
Judge Ian Farlam, chairperson of the Marikana commission of inquiry. (Picture: AFP)

Judge Ian Farlam, chairperson of the Marikana commission of inquiry. (Picture: AFP)

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Marikana - The judicial commission of inquiry into the shooting at Lonmin platinum mine concluded a two-day in loco inspection on Tuesday afternoon.

Commission chairperson retired judge Ian Farlam and his team visited the area where 34 miners were killed and 78 were wounded near the mine in Marikana on 16 August, when police opened fire while trying to disperse a group of striking protesters.

Commissioners also examined other places deemed important to the inquiry.

These included hostels, formal mine housing, informal settlements and the hospital were wounded miners were taken after the shooting.

The commission, advocates, observers and journalists, many wearing wide-brimmed hats or carrying umbrellas, walked from scene to scene.

The commission toured blocks of "old-style" single sex hostels inhabited by mineworkers.

Lonmin representative Natasha Viljoen told Farlam: "We are currently converting and we will take you to see the final products [new-style hostels]."

Several workers were milling about when the judge entered a room with seven beds.

Cooking utensils were stashed in one corner, and a low wall in the middle of the room divided four of the beds from the other three.

The judge asked to see the toilet. Several men were busy cleaning it.

Farlam took a dirty, unused and damaged toilet roll dispenser and remarked: "This thing looks like it dispensed toilet paper ages ago."

The commission visited a beer hall, next to the hostels.

Across the road were the newly-built family unit hostels.

Viljoen led Farlam into an unoccupied unit consisting of a small, open-plan kitchen and a lounge, two bedrooms, and a bathroom with a shower, toilet and basin.

The judge also looked at an occupied unit.

During an inspection of the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) office and its surrounding areas, an unidentified mineworker told Farlam that the union's members had shot at protesters.

Speaking through a translator, he told Farlam that miners were marching on the road behind the local police satellite office to NUM's office on 11 August.

On the way, NUM members confronted and shot at them, he said. Two workers were killed.

Andrew Saffy Memorial Hospital executive director of sustainability, Dr Mel Mentz, took the commission on a tour of the hospital.

He said 56 injured patients were admitted to the hospital on the night of the 16 August shooting. Two workers were declared dead on arrival and one died at the hospital.

During the inspection, members of the Marikana Support Campaign protested outside Wonderkop stadium, near the mine, singing and waving placards, calling for the police to be prosecuted.

"Do not let the police get away with murder," read several posters. Another read: "Re eme mona ga re tsitsinyege, re ba tla nnete fela" [loosely translated as: "We are standing here, we are not moving, we want the truth."]

The commission was scheduled to hear oral evidence in the Rustenburg Civic Centre on Wednesday.

- SAPA

Read more on:    lonmin  |  num  |  ian farlam  |  mahikeng  |  marikana inquiry  |  mining unrest
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