Lawyers want Marikana commission moved

2013-02-26 18:17

Rustenburg - An application to move the venue of the ongoing public hearings of the Marikana inquiry from Rustenburg was brought before the Farlam commission on Tuesday.

Dali Mpofu, for mineworkers arrested on 16 August, asked the commission chairperson, retired judge Ian Farlam, to move the hearings to a place close to either Pretoria or Johannesburg.

Mpofu said there had been one extension of the commission’s deadline and it was likely there was going to be another extension.

"Already there has been one extension until the end of May 2013. Some of us are not optimistic that we will meet that second deadline," he said.

"It seems probable that another extension will be taken. We are faced with the reality that this commission can run into the second half of the year."

He said the lawyers were incurring numerous costs, including the huge travelling time to Rustenburg and the less time to hold consultations.

Mpofu said his legal team "conservatively costs around R50 000 to run" per day.

Dumisa Ntsebeza SC, for the families of the deceased mineworkers, also requested a change of venue.

Earlier, Farlam said considerations to move the venue could only be made by him in consultation with the Minister of Justice Jeff Radebe.

Farlam said he would arrange a meeting with the minister.

On Tuesday, the commission concluded the cross-examination of Siphethe Phatsha, a survivor of the Marikana shootings which left 34 people dead.

Phatsha told the commission a police Nyala knocked down protesters near a hill in Marikana, near Rustenburg, on 16 August.

He said he ran to escape from the police vehicle.

"I was running towards higher ground. I was afraid of that hippo [referring to the Nyala] so I wanted to run away, but my injured toe was very painful," he told the commission.

A lawyer representing the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) asked Phatsha to explain why he was afraid of the police vehicle.

"It was bumping into people running against it. The people it bumped into were falling down," he said.


The commission is holding hearings in Rustenburg, North West, as part of its inquiry into the deaths of 44 people during an unprotected strike at Lonmin Platinum's mine in Marikana last year.

On 16 August, 34 striking mineworkers were shot dead and 78 were injured when the police opened fire while trying to disperse a group which had gathered on a hill near the mine.

Ten people, including two police officers and two security guards, were killed near the mine in the preceding week.

In August, President Jacob Zuma announced the establishment of the judicial commission of inquiry and tasked it with investigating the cause of the violence of August 16 and the preceding, strike-related events.

The commission is now mandated to wrap up its investigations by 31 May, and will have six weeks to submit its final report to Zuma.