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Marikana hearing resumes in Rustenburg

South Africa

Johannesburg - The Farlam Commission of Inquiry probing the Marikana shootings continues in Rustenburg on Friday.

The commission is probing the deaths of 44 people during an unprotected strike at the mine. Thirty-four striking mineworkers were shot dead and 78 were wounded when police opened fire while trying to disperse a group of protesters gathered on a hill near the mine on August 16.

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From left: advocate Pingla Hemraj, Marikana commission chairman Ian Farlam and advocate Bantubonke Tokota are seen during the first week of the inquiry at the Civic Centre in Rustenburg in the North West, Wednesday, 3 October 2012. The judicial commission of inquiry into the shooting at Lonmin platinum mine was postponed on Wednesday. Lawyers representing the different parties unanimously decided to postpone the matter to 9am on October 22. Thirty-four miners were killed and 78 wounded when police opened fire on them while trying to disperse protesters near the mine in Marikana on August 16. Picture: SAPA stringer

In the preceding week, 10 people, including two police officers and two security guards, were hacked to death.

On Thursday, Schalk Burger for Lonmin argued at the commission that the R12 500 demanded by striking Marikana mineworkers was too high and unrealistic.

He said most South Africans generally earned less than this.

National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) health and safety national secretary Erick Gcilitshana said it would difficult to judge, as he did not know how much money the company had available.

Burger told him to take off his union hat, to answer the question like a witness, and admit the demand was too high.

Gcilitshana stood by his answer.

They did, however, agree that the strike was in contempt of a Labour Court order, that violence erupted, and that strikers were armed.

Burger said Lonmin and NUM had agreed they would not negotiate with workers under those circumstances. - Sapa

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