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Africa

Marikana probe visits settlements

One day after it was opened, the Marikana commission of inquiry, headed by retired judge Ian Farlam, has been finding out about the deceased miners' working and living conditions.

The inquiry panel visited miners' housing, including a hostel and informal housing, as well as a local hospital and Lonmin mine shafts in order to see first hand the social, living and working conditions of the miners who were shot dead by police after going on strike.

They also visited the spot where two mine security guards were set alight and killed. They also inspected the area where two policemen were hacked to death before that fateful day of 16th of August when 34 miners were killed and more than 80 others wounded by police gun fire.

Public hearings are set to begin on Wednesday, with the families of the deceased given priority seating. The commission asked news media, which have graphic videos and photos of the police shootings, to hand over such material for examination.

Tebogo Mosikedi is one of the lawyers representing 20 families who lost their wage earners during the police shootings. He says he's happy that the commission has started its work, but would have liked to have seen family members of the playing an active role during the inquiry.

Striking miners dance and cheer after they were informed of a 22 percent wage increase offer outside Lonmin's Marikana mine, 100 km (60 miles) northwest of Johannesburg, September 18, 2012. Striking miners at the mine said on Tuesday they accepted a management pay rise offer and would return to work on Thursday after six weeks of mining sector unrest that shook Africa's largest economy. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko (SOUTH AFRICA - Tags: CIVIL UNREST POLITICS BUSINESS EMPLOYMENT)

The commission will probe the welfare of miners among other issues

"It would have been proper and appropriate for the families to be there, and for whoever is responsible under the auspices of the commission to say to them this is where your family died."

The inquiry launched on Monday focuses on the violence which took place from August 10-16 at a Lonmin platinum mine, 94 kilometers (58 miles) northwest of Johannesburg.

The Marikana commission of inquiry, chaired by retired Judge Ian Farlam, will determine the roles played by the police, Lonmin, the National Union of Mineworkers and the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union.

It will also determine whether any of those investigated could have put measures into place to prevent the violence from breaking out.

The nearly six-week strike at Marikana was resolved with a wage deal that saw miners gain a 22 percent pay rise and return to work on September 20.

The strikes, however, have spread to other platinum and gold mines in South Africa and workers are increasingly rejecting their unions and instead choosing their own representatives to speak directly with management.

Union leader attacked

As those in Marikana tried to find answers as how and why the shootings occurred, labor unrest continued.

The National Union of Mineworkers ( NUM) said one of its officials was in intensive care Monday after a petrol-bomb attack on his house Friday night.

The union said the victim is the union's top official at Anglo American Platinum's Khomanani branch and that the attack was carried out by people who are deliberately seeking to intimidate union members.

The NUM did not elaborate, but a rival union has allegedly been intimidating NUM leaders in its bid to gain more members and bargaining power. Workers have been on strike for weeks at Anglo American Platinum, which is the world's largest platinum producer.

Meanwhile South Africa's truck drivers, represented by the South African Transport and Allied Workers Union (SATAWU) has said it is organizing peaceful protests and meetings of its members across the country. Truck drivers have been on strike for a week for higher pay.

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