Inquiry seeks answers to Marikana tragedy

The commission of inquiry into the killing of 34 Lonmin miners will start on Monday.

Police opened fire at protesting workers at the Lonmin mine in Marikana, North West on 16 August, 2012. 34 miners were killed. Picture: Taurai Maduna/Eyewitness News

JOHANNESBURG - The Marikana commission of inquiry will start on Monday with hearings aimed at determining who was ultimately responsible for the deaths of Lonmin miners in the North West province.

Violent attacks at the mining town killed 46 people since August after mineworkers embarked on an illegal strike over wages.

Workers have since signed a wage increase agreement after staying away from work for more than five weeks.

Police officers deployed to the area have been accused for killing 34 miners during the illegal action.

The incident made international headlines.

Officers claimed rubber bullets and a water cannon were not enough to disperse the miners who charged towards them.

President Jacob Zuma appointed a judicial commission last month, headed by retired judge Ian Farlam.

Its work will include gathering evidence and determining whether officers were justified in using maximum force.

The roles played by the Association of Construction and Mineworkers Union (Amcu), the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) as well as Lonmin management will be analysed to determine the root cause of the strike action.

The justice department last month estimated that starting costs for the inquiry would amount to R24 million, with added costs expected to be between R44 million and R50 million.

Public hearings will take place at the Rustenburg Civic Centre, in hope that mourning families will attend and give testimonies.

While the wage dispute has been resolved, the tragedy has sparked several other strikes in the mining industry, with almost 75,000 miners across the country abandoning their posts in demand for a R12,500 monthly salary.