Marikana commission adjourns

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Rustenburg - The Commission of Inquiry into the Marikana tragedy was adjourned before it could begin with its hearing in Rustenburg on Monday to allow for the victims' families to travel to the town in the North West province to attend proceedings.

Judge Ian Farlam, who heads the commission, said: "At this stage we adjourn and we will resume again after we have been told it is proper for us to do so."

This comes after Advocate Dumisa Ntsebeza SC pleaded to the commission not to proceed with the hearings until all the relatives of the more than 40 people killed during the Marikana clashes in August were present.

Other lawyers in the room, including those that represent the police, the Mineral Resources and Justice Departments, also agreed to the adjournment.

It was not clear as to when the commission would resume its work, but SAnews understands that different parties were in discussions to reach an agreement on the way forward.

The Department of Social Development is said to be planning to transport the affected families, the majority of whom reside in the Eastern Cape, by Monday 8 August.

Following two days of inspection loco, the commission was scheduled to officially open the hearings on Tuesday.

But Ntsebeza submitted that it would not be "fair or proper" for the commission to continue without the families of the bereaved present.

"We have an obligation to have these people here. If they are not here, something about that is not ok," he said.

Earlier in the week Farlam said the Department of Social Development was in the process of bringing the families to the commission hearings at Rustenburg Civic Centre. But it emerged today that this can only be done by 8 August. There were suggestions that the commission should continue in the meantime with cross examination of some witnesses without unfairly prejudicing the absent families.

Meanwhile, it was revealed that 31 autopsy reports were ready to be handed to the commission. The reports were expected to give details on the cause of death and will help shed light during cross examination of witnesses and leading of evidence.