Skip to main content

South African commission probing miners' deaths starts proceedings

By Faith Karimi and Nkepile Mabuse, CNN
updated 8:45 PM EDT, Mon October 1, 2012
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: The commission members plan to visit the settlement where the miners lived
  • The commission will look into the conduct of Lonmin, mine unions and police
  • Protests at the mine in the northwest killed 44 people, including two police officers
  • Of those, 34 miners were killed in a clash with police

Johannesburg, South Africa (CNN) -- A South African commission tasked with investigating the killings of dozens of striking miners by police started its proceedings Monday with a moment of silence and the reading of the victims' names.

President Jacob Zuma ordered the inquiry into the killings, one of the deadliest attacks since the end of apartheid in 1994.

The proceedings are open to the public except in cases where officials believe justice will be undermined, the commission said in a statement.

For the next two days, the commission will look into how the events unfolded. Members plan to visit the settlement where the miners lived to assess conditions.

The strikes started in August at Lonmin-owned Marikana platinum mine in the nation's northwest.

S. African miners charged with murder
Protesters gather at the Lonmin platinum mine in Marikana, South Africa on August 17, 2012 where the day before 34 people were killed when police opened fire on striking mineworkers. Protesters gather at the Lonmin platinum mine in Marikana, South Africa on August 17, 2012 where the day before 34 people were killed when police opened fire on striking mineworkers.
Deadly violence at platinum mine
HIDE CAPTION
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
>
>>
South African miners killed during strike South African miners killed during strike

Police opened fire on demonstrators the same month, killing 34 workers. An additional 10 people died in the protests, including two police officers.

South African authorities at first charged 270 miners with murder before dropping the charges pending further investigation.

Workers at the mine ended their weekslong strike last month after accepting a pay hike of up to 22%.

Rights groups are calling for transparency and fairness in the proceedings.

"The powers and ability of the Commission of Inquiry appointed to investigate the deaths of 44 people near Lonmin's Marikana mine in August must be clarified to ensure justice and redress for all those affected," Amnesty International said in a statement last week.

Amnesty expressed concerns on the safety of witnesses and whether the commission has enough resources to support those providing evidence to the inquiry.

"Many potential witnesses may need financial support to engage with the commission, including for legal advice and transport," Amnesty said.

The commission will look into the conduct of Lonmin, the South African police and the workers' unions during the strikes.

It will have the powers to issue subpoenas and conduct searches.

CNN's Nkepile Mabuse reported from Johannesburg; Faith Karimi from Atlanta

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 10:26 AM EST, Wed February 6, 2013
Advocates say the exam includes unnecessarily invasive and irrelevant procedures -- like a so-called "two finger" test.
updated 7:09 PM EST, Tue February 5, 2013
Supplies of food, clothing and fuel are running short in Damascus and people are going hungry as the civil war drags on.
updated 1:01 PM EST, Wed February 6, 2013
Supporters of Richard III want a reconstruction of his head to bring a human aspect to a leader portrayed as a murderous villain.
updated 10:48 AM EST, Tue February 5, 2013
Robert Fowler spent 130 days held hostage by the same al Qaeda group that was behind the Algeria massacre. He shares his experience.
updated 12:07 AM EST, Wed February 6, 2013
As "We are the World" plays, a video shows what looks like a nuclear attack on the U.S. Jim Clancy reports on a bizarre video from North Korea.
The relationship is, once again, cold enough to make Obama's much-trumpeted "reset" in Russian-U.S. relations seem thoroughly off the rails.
Ten years on, what do you think the Iraq war has changed in you, and in your country? Send us your thoughts and experiences.
updated 7:15 AM EST, Tue February 5, 2013
Musician Daniela Mercury has sold more than 12 million albums worldwide over a career span of nearly 30 years.
Photojournalist Alison Wright travelled the world to capture its many faces in her latest book, "Face to Face: Portraits of the Human Spirit."
updated 7:06 PM EST, Tue February 5, 2013
Europol claims 380 soccer matches, including top level ones, were fixed - as the scandal widens, CNN's Dan Rivers looks at how it's done.
updated 7:37 AM EST, Wed February 6, 2013
That galaxy far, far away is apparently bigger than first thought. The "Star Wars" franchise will get two spinoff movies, Disney announced.
updated 7:27 PM EDT, Fri July 25, 2014
It's an essential part of any trip, an activity we all take part in. Yet almost none of us are any good at it. Souvenir buying is too often an obligatory slog.
ADVERTISEMENT