/ 23 August 2012

Marikana commission under pressure to act quickly

Judge Ian Farlam.
Judge Ian Farlam.

President Jacob Zuma has appointed a commission of inquiry to establish what happened at the Marikana massacre.

The inquiry's terms of reference are far-reaching and its deadlines tight. Speaking at a media briefing at the Union Buildings on Thursday afternoon, Zuma said Judge Ian Farlam, retired judge of the Supreme Court of Appeal, will chair the commission.

"The commission shall complete its work within a period of four months and must submit its final report within a month of completing its work," he said.

Farlam is highly regarded and will be joined by advocate Bantubonke Tokota SC and advocate Pingla Hemraj SC, who have both acted as judges.

The terms of reference include investigating Lonmin's conduct and, in particular, whether it tried its best to resolve labour disputes. The commission will also investigate the conduct of the police, the National Union of Mineworkers and the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union, as well as individuals and other government departments, should it see fit.

Reports and recommendations
The commission may refer any matter regarding the conduct of a person or group for prosecution, further investigation, or convene a separate inquiry.

It will be empowered to enter and search premises, secure the attendance of witnesses and compel anyone to produce documents.

Zuma said the terms could be extended, changed or amended and the commission would submit interim reports and recommendations to him each month before presenting its final report.

A coalition of Marikana community members, striking miners and civil society movements announced this week that there would be an "independent, people's commission of inquiry" into the massacre that claimed the lives of 34 miners last week.

Vishwas Satgar, of the Democratic Left Front, said that at a meeting held at the University of Johannesburg on Wednesday there "had been deep scepticism about the government's proposed inquiry". – With Niren Tolsi