Demand for inquiry into Lonmin killing

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Rustenburg, North West - Human rights groups, trade unions and civil society have called for an independent probe into the deadly shootout at Lonmin mine in the North West province.

An immediate investigation was needed, said the Centre for Human Rights, the SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC), Solidarity, the Black Business Council (BBC) and the National Council of Trade Unions (Nactu).

A total of 34 people were killed in a shootout that erupted near the mine on Thursday when police tried to disperse striking miners.

More than 78 people were injured.

Another 10 people had by then been killed in the violent protests at the mine over the past week.

The Centre for Human Rights said available evidence raised questions about the appropriateness of the police's response.

“The centre therefore calls on President (Jacob) Zuma to immediately appoint an independent commission of inquiry to investigate the causes and to establish responsibility for the killings.”

It said a police or government inquiry would constitute a “business as usual” approach.

The SAHRC said it would seek more details from the Independent Police Investigative Directorate.

Condemning the violence, the SAHRC said it was still not clear why police did not use other means to disperse the protesters.

The BBC asked for an “all-encompassing judicial commission of inquiry” to investigate the general conduct of industrial action in South Africa.

The underlying causes of the crisis at Lonmin should be probed.

Trade union Solidarity said it was appalled by the violence at Marikana mine.

General secretary Gideon du Plessis said it was “a pity” the action of the police resulted in the loss of life, but added that police could not be blamed for acting in self-defence.

He said protesters had earlier this week “killed 10 people in a barbaric way”.

“The photos and visuals presented at the media conference (Phiyega's briefing) are shocking and clearly show that the protesters were heavily armed,” he said in a statement.

“Two members of the police service... who... tried to resolve the dispute in a peaceful manner, were hacked to death with pangas...”

Nactu said there was no justification for “mass murder”.

“The brutal killing of any human being in a free society should be condemned with utmost disgust,” general secretary Narius Moloto said in a statement. - Sapa

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